A CARE provider teamed up with an inventor to create its own plastic protective facemasks using a 3D printer.

Its 300 healthcare staff will use them while they look after 600 people across the area.

First City Nursing and Care invested in the printer after reports of a shortage of personal protective equipment across the country.

Managing director of First City Stephen Trowbridge said: “Our staff make over 12,000 visits a week to vulnerable and elderly people in our community, many of whom having been displaying symptoms of Covid-19.

“My teams are on the frontline of the fight but every day it was getting harder to source the PPE that they need in order to do their jobs safely.”

The company, based on Cheney Manor Industrial Estate, built its first prototype of a face shield to minimise the spread of the virus.

Its made of a headband and acetate face shield which can be replaced between each visit.

Ben Edmonds, a local inventor and product designer – he runs Inventor Club teaching children innovation and problem solving – helped by modifying the mask.

Stephen added: “NHS distribution lines were only able to send us 300 masks a week and our other suppliers were finding it difficult to source goods too.

“Over the last few weeks we’ve seen prices rocket up, with alcohol gel rising by 12 times and a similar increase for face masks.

"We felt as though we were being forced to the black market to obtain this critical equipment as new suppliers appeared on the market but we were dubious over the quality and safety of the products.

“Like every other care provider in the country, we were at a loss over what to do.”

First City is now working with Ramsbury Brewery and Distillery in Marlborough. It is producing alcohol gel that will be given to its staff.

Stephen said: “We approached the brewery to ask if they would set up a production line for us, which is now delivering more than enough alcohol gel for our staff.

“However, this work will not just be protecting First City’s staff but we plan to produce as much as we can so that we can offer this PPE to our fellow domiciliary care providers at cost price.

“This isn’t a money-making opportunity but one to ensure that as many care staff as possible have adequate protective equipment so that the most vulnerable of our community can continue to be cared for.”