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The University of Southampton

Southampton respirator rolled out in over 20 NHS trusts across the country

Published: 26 January 2021
The PeRSo respirator
The PeRSo respirator in use at University Hospital Southampton

A personal respirator developed in an engineering collaboration at the University of Southampton is now being used by frontline NHS staff treating COVID-19 patients around the country.

Over 10,000 respirators have been provided to staff in more than 20 NHS trusts from the south of England to Scotland after it received approval from the Health and Safety Executive for use during the pandemic.

The Personal Respirator Southampton, known as PeRSo, is a portable unit with a fabric hood which covers the wearer's head and a plastic visor to protect their face.

It delivers clean air through a High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter with belt-mounted fan pack and can be worn throughout a long shift and reused after appropriate cleaning.

The respirator has been honoured by the Royal Academy of Engineering with a President’s Special Award for Pandemic Service.

As the country went into the first lockdown in March 2020, a collaboration came together including University engineers, clinicians at University Hospital Southampton and industry partners including McLaren, Kemp Sails and INDO Lighting. The partnership turned an idea into a prototype in just one week which was then tested on wards and manufactured at scale by INDO Lighting in less than a month.

Dr Becky Eggleston, a doctor on the general intensive care unit at University Hospital Southampton, says: “We are extremely grateful for all the work that the team has put into producing the PeRSo hoods.  They are much more comfortable than alternative PPE, which makes a huge difference to us during our long shifts.

“Being able to see each other's faces makes it easier for our team to communicate, and knowing that patients take comfort from being able to see the faces of the people looking after them is a boost to morale.”

The multidisciplinary PeRSo team has included engineering expertise from Dr Alex Dickinson, Associate Professor in the Bioengineering Science Research Group; Dr Mark Mavrogordato, Senior Research Fellow and Director (Operations) at the µ-VIS X-Ray Imaging Centre; Dr Clint Styles, Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences Business Development Manager; Professor Philippa Reed, Professor of Structural Materials and Head of Mechanical Engineering; Dr Sebastian Rosini, Beamline Scientist and µ-VIS Fellow; Dr Laura Diment, Post-Doctoral Fellow in Prosthetics Research; and Dr David Marshall, Wind Tunnel Manager.


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