HMP PPE contract keeps NHS staff safe whilst also receiving praise from OFSTED

Posted Tuesday, March 23, 2021 2:50 PM

HMP PPE contract keeps NHS staff safe whilst also receiving praise from OFSTED

Sherwood Forest Hospitals and Serco-managed HMP Lowdham Grange have been working in partnership to help up-skill prisoners whilst benefitting the NHS by setting up an NVQ programme for prisoners to make PPE for hospital staff during the pandemic.

Prisoners at HMP Lowdham Grange, near Nottingham, have so far made 1200 sets of scrubs, 716 surgical gowns, 470 surgical caps and more than 16,000 face coverings for the Trust to use during the pandemic.

The Business Enterprise unit at HMP Lowdham Grange has been working with the inmates to produce the PPE, with the unlikely partnership beginning with a Facebook request from a group called ‘For the Love of Scrubs’, which Head of Contracts and Sustainability for Business Enterprise, Sally Allsopp saw and thought they could help with.

Sally explains: “I saw that the group ‘For the Love of Scrubs’ had been approached by Sherwood Forest Hospitals, but that they were struggling to meet the demand. I knew we already had prisoners working on chef wear for Serco prisons and thought that the transition to make the scrubs and other PPE would be achievable.”

After speaking with managers at the Trust and Textiles Expert, Malcom Turner at Lowdham Grange, the partnership was made and patterns for scrubs were sent to the prison and they set to work making sure they had the correct skills base in their workshop to set up a production line to produce the amount of PPE needed.

By April 2020 the prison had already donated 300 sets of scrubs to King’s Mill Hospital and an official ordering system had been set up to manage what was needed.

Sally added: “The satisfaction that our prisoners are getting from being able to help the NHS is amazing and we all feel extremely proud to be able to do this.

“We were so grateful that Shantell Miles, Head of Nursing and Julie Dennis, Senior Soft FM Manager visited Lowdham and personally thanked each prisoner that had taken part. They also received a certificate and a token of appreciation which included chocolate and various items of toiletries. It really made a difference to their morale.”

The prison has built the making of the PPE into its NVQ programme in Performing and Manufacturing Operations. At the beginning of February 2021 they received a virtual visit from OFSTED, who said: “Workshop instructors used tailored worksheets effectively to help prisoners develop their skills for their specific job roles. A few prisoners gained their performing manufacturing operations qualifications.

“The NHS contract for scrubs and protective equipment led to an expansion of textiles work. Prisoners and staff were proud of their support for the NHS through these workshops. More prisoners were able to quickly develop new skills in sewing.”

Sally added: “Being able to support the NHS has given the prisoners humbleness and a sense of dignity and gratification, this has shone through in the quality of items they are producing and with the urgency that they produce them. The contract is very popular and close to prisoners’ hearts as they feel they are making a contribution to the pandemic and that it is giving them links to assisting the community, we would like to thank the hospital Trust for allowing this relationship to develop.”

A prisoner working on the programme said: “Working on the NHS project has given me so much pride, even though I am in prison, I feel that I am contributing to making a difference and helping the hospital”

Soft FM Manager at Sherwood Forest Hospitals, Julie Dennis, who has been instrumental in setting the partnership up added: “I am so pleased we have been able to work with HMP Lowdham Grange to make this partnership work. It has clearly made a difference to the prisoners who are working on the project and we are so grateful to them for producing items that our colleagues need.

“We have not had a problem accessing PPE throughout the pandemic, but the additional items that the prison has made has really made a difference and has ensured that we have never run out and that we have always had more than enough supply. We can’t thank them enough for their hard work and dedication during what has been a difficult time for everyone.”

Serco Prison Director, Mark Hanson added; “I am really proud of the work completed by staff and prisoners helping the NHS with the supply of vital PPE during this national emergency. This collaborative work has allowed prisoners the opportunity to put something back into the community. Our work continues as a result of this project and our partnership with Sherwood Forest Hospitals goes from strength to strength.”

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