Monday, 28 September 2020

Teacher makes protective screens for GP surgeries

Teacher makes protective screens for GP surgeries

A DESIGN technology teacher is working to protect medical staff from the coronavirus outbreak.

Nick Mills, who is head of DT at the Oratory School in Woodcote, has built and installed two protective screens at the village’s GP surgery and a third at its counterpart in Goring.

He is now manufacturing reusable face masks for the practices’ staff in the laboratory at the independent school, which is now shut for the Easter holidays.

Mr Mills, 36, was asked for help by Dr Amanda Gemmill, who is a GP partner at Woodcote surgery and also teaches science at the Oratory.

He made the screens using 3mm thick polycarbonate, a type of plastic which is highly flexible and shatter- resistant, and drilled a number of small holes in them through which people can speak. There were already frames around the main reception desk and dispensary counter at the surgery in Woodcote but he had to make one for the Goring surgery after buying wood and a hacksaw from the village hardware store.

He has since built another screen with aluminium frames for a surgery in Newbury where his friend Dr Ben Loxton Edwards, a fellow member of Upper Thames Rowing Club in Henley, is a GP.

Mr Mills says he can build up to five face shields a day featuring a simple visor and a mount which fits around the wearer’s forehead. This is made from a high-grade plastic which can be washed and reused.

He has ordered a batch of medical-grade filters and will start building sterile masks as soon as these arrive.

Mr Mills said: “I initially offered to make ventilator parts but Amanda said this would be really useful for those on the frontline who are dealing with patients who might be carrying the virus.

“I worked to a budget to ensure it was using NHS funds appropriately and followed design guidelines to ensure the screens didn’t affect accessibility.

“I had to think on my feet when there wasn’t a frame at Goring but luckily the hardware store was open and I’m used to improvising as my pupils are always coming up with new projects.”

Mr Mills’ fiancée is in the army and is currently based in Salisbury carrying out emergency planning in case troops are needed during the crisis.

He said: “I can’t help with any of the medical stuff but I can use my skills to help in other ways and I wanted to do that. This has brought out a great show of altruism around the country — I think you’ve got to do something if you’re able.”

Dr Gemmill said: “Without the screens, our staff would be exposed to increased risk so we are hugely appreciative for this added protection.

“Nick has been proactive and enthusiastic, listening and responding to our needs while juggling his own workload and duties at the school. He put in many late nights and weekend hours to get these completed so quickly.

“It is a perfect example of how in times of need we learn the true meaning of community. Our whole team is extremely grateful for his commitment.”

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