Contact Us On
020 7702 2141

NHS Supply Chain Statement:

NHS Supply Chain Statement:

Jin Sahota our Chief Executive Officer has informed the Board and colleagues that he is stepping down from his role at SCCL, the management function of NHS Supply Chain.  This decision is Jin’s personal decision and comes at the conclusion of his assignment to NHS Supply Chain.  He was commissioned to design, build and operationalise a new national procurement route for the NHS and the new operating model is now up and running.           

Under Jin’s leadership NHS Supply Chain was named the Best Commercial Project in 2019 at the Government Commercial Function Leadership Awards, and has grown its share of the market from 38% to 56% since its creation. 

Howard Blackith our Chief Information Officer will be leaving SCCL on the 9 October, to join Ericsson in a global role.   We thank Howard for his significant contribution in delivering the programme and establishing the IT function we have today and we wish Howard the best in his future role.

In the meantime, it is business as usual for NHS Supply Chain, which plays a vital role as part of the wider NHS family focused on delivering patient care.

Jim Spittle Chair of the SCCL Board said: “I would like to personally thank Jin for his contribution to the business whilst on secondment from the Government Commercial Office. We will shortly begin the process of recruiting our first substantive CEO, which has always been part of the plan for the next stage of the organisation’s development. Jin, the Board and I are discussing the next steps and timings.” 

Published: 23rd September 2020

STOP THE PRESSURE – Tissue Viability Society

STOP THE PRESSURE – Tissue Viability Society

On Thursday 19th November 2020 the Tissue Viability Society have one goal worldwide: STOP PRESSURE ULCERS

STOP Pressure Ulcer Day is a global annual event in which industry, healthcare professionals, the  public and media come together to help raise awareness of pressure ulcers – something many people are touched by every year. In 2012, the Declaration in Rio was created in which Spanish-speaking countries (the first to hold STOP Pressure Ulcer Days) spoke out against people developing pressure ulcers. The aim of this annual event, which now takes place in countries all over the world, is to increase public knowledge in a bid to prevent pressure ulcers from forming and affecting so many people each year.

The Tissue Viability Society along with their Corporate Sponsors and other industry partners would like to support Healthcare Professionals to take part in the International Stop Pressure Ulcer Campaign.

We have started to collate some useful materials within our Online Resource Centre, to help you plan your event, along with other materials which you may find helpful.

Click Here to find out more.

Published: 18th September 2020

Source: Tissue Viability Society

Page URL:

CMA’s Updated Guide for Businesses on Compliance to Competition Law

CMA’s Updated Guide for Businesses on Compliance to Competition Law

The CMA has updated its guide for businesses on how to comply with competition law:

The pdf below provides a basic overview of competition law, outlining the steps businesses and risk professionals can take to help identify and reduce competition law risks. It also outlines what to do if competition law has been breached and provides case studies with key learnings.

For further detailed information Click Here –

Published: 17th September

Common Scams Targeting Seniors and how to Avoid Them

Common Scams Targeting Seniors and how to Avoid Them

Seniors face all of the same scams as everyone else, but some scams disproportionately affect the older generations. Many of these fall under the umbrella of elder fraud – the misappropriation or abuse of financial control in a relationship where there is an expectation of trust, resulting in harm to a senior victim.

Elder fraud is vastly underreported, according to a study by Comparitech. The study estimates 5 million cases of elder fraud occur in the US alone each year, resulting in $27.4 billion in losses. This means that 38 percent of fraud cases target the elderly.

But what makes older people susceptible to fraud? What sorts of scams target seniors, and what can seniors do to avoid these scams?

Elderly People Are Attractive Targets for Scammers

A number of factors contribute to senior people’s susceptibility to certain types of fraud, including:

Social Isolation

Many seniors don’t have close friends or family they can talk to about day-to-day life. This can make them more willing to continue a conversation with a potential scammer. They might not have anyone to run things by to get a second opinion. And if they fall victim to a scam, they are less likely to tell anyone about it.

Good Credit and Lots of Money

Older people have six times as much cash as younger people on average and often have strong, well-established credit scores. This makes them enticing targets for criminals.

Lack of Cybersecurity Awareness

Seniors didn’t grow up with smartphones and the Internet and tend to be less active online. As the technological world continues to advance at a rapid clip, it can be tough for seniors to learn and keep up with digital hygiene.

Common Problems

Many seniors face similar issues: health concerns, retirement security, caring for loved ones, and loneliness. Scammers can craft their messages to address these issues while still casting a wide net to lure in a large number of potential victims.

Scams Targeting Older Adults

Urgency is a common thread in almost all scams.

Scammers try to instill a sense of urgency in their victims. They will create some sort of deadline in order to make you rush to a decision. They do this because it works; people who react without thinking things through tend to make mistakes.

So, if you feel rushed to make any move involving money or private information, stop. Take a breath. Take in what is happening and analyze the situation. Do not let others make decisions for you.

Keep that in mind as you read through some of these types of scams. It’s easy to fool yourself into thinking you would never fall for such obvious ploys, but when in a hurry, we all tend to let our guard down.

Below we describe the types of scams that usually target seniors:

Advance Fee Scams

Advance fee scams take many forms but follow a simple pattern: scammers ask for an up-front payment in return for a greater reward down the road.

Common advance fee scams that target seniors include:

Investment Scams

Many seniors have money to invest but, grimly, not a lot of time to wait for investments to mature. Because of this, they tend to be drawn to short-term investments, which is where fraudsters focus their efforts.

Lottery and Sweepstakes Scams

In the usual scenario, the scammer claims that the victim has won a large sum of money, but a smaller amount has to be paid in order to claim it. Scammers tell victims the fee is meant to cover transfer fees or taxes, for example.

Inheritance Scams

The scammer will tell you someone has died, and you are entitled to some amount of money according to their will, but you must first pay a fee to release the funds.

The sunk cost fallacy plays a strong role in advanced fee scams, as victims continue to give money in the hopes that their initial investment was a wise one.

In reality, all of the money is pocketed by scammers.

How to Spot Advance Fee Scams

There are a few ways to spot and avoid advance fee scams.

First of all, any investments you make should be proactive, not reactive. You should actively seek out investments based on your own research, and avoid giving into sales pitches from solicitors approaching you with “opportunities.”

If you didn’t enter a lottery, it’s safe to say you can’t win it.

Scammers will often ask for odd forms of payment, such as cryptocurrencies, wire transfers, and gift cards.

Grandparent Scams

This scam often occurs over the phone though email and social media are also used.

The scammer calls a senior person, posing as their grandchild. They will complain about being in some sort of emergency situation, and ask that money be sent quickly to help them out of a jam. They might ask for bail money or airfare to get home, for example.

How to Avoid Grandparent Scams

If you’re uncertain as to whether the caller is actually your grandchild or not, take steps to verify their identity. The caller might try to avoid questions by claiming that they don’t have time to answer them. This is a ploy to make you feel rushed and careless.

Be sure to ask questions that can’t be found online. Asking the supposed grandchild for their parents’ names is too easy. Scammers will have such information ready at their disposal. Instead, ask specific questions that only a grandchild would know.

Also, be wary of how they demand payment. Scammers will usually want something that’s difficult to trace or take back. Wire transfers, cryptocurrency, gift cards, and other seemingly odd forms of payment should raise red flags.

Tech Support Scams

Tech support scams take place over the phone and online. Scammers call or message their target posing as Microsoft or another tech company. They will claim that your computer is broken or infected with a virus, and that they must follow their orders to fix it.

They may also tell you that failing to fix the computer will result in lost data, stolen funds, computer damage, or even police intervention.

From there, scammers can try a number of schemes. They may claim to have “fixed” your computer and ask for a fee. They might trick you into installing remote control software or malware so they can hijack your device later.

Or they might instruct you to log into your bank account to test for banking malware when they’re really just stealing your bank account information.

How to Spot Tech Support Scams

Microsoft and other tech companies will not proactively contact you about your computer problems. If you have a computer problem, you must contact them. So, if someone calls or messages you claiming to be some sort of technician, it’s likely a scam.

Identity Theft

Identity theft involves a scammer using your personal information to pose as you in order to reap some financial benefit. They may take out loans, obtain your medical prescriptions, or sign up for services under your name.

When it comes to elder fraud, most identity theft is perpetrated by someone close to the victim, such as a family member or caregiver.

How to Spot Identity Theft

Keep an eye on your bank statements and credit reports. If you see anything suspicious, follow up on it. If you start receiving bills or getting calls from debt collectors that you don’t recognize, that can be a sign of identity theft.

Be sure to keep important documents like your Social Security card in a locked and hidden place. Shred any documents containing personal information before you discard them.

Romance Scams

Romance scams prey on seniors who feel isolated and are looking for companionship. These scams most often start online and heavily target women over 50. They usually take place on dating apps or social media.

The scammer poses as a potential love interest and, over time, earns their victim’s trust. Once the victim has been sufficiently groomed, the scammer tests them by asking for money.

It will be a small amount at first. The scammer may say the money is to help a relative, fix their car, or buy their child a birthday present.

From there, the situation escalates.

The scammer might ask for compromising photos or information that they can later use to extort their victim. They start asking for larger amounts of money, piling on excuses as to why they need it. Sometimes scammers ask victims to receive and send packages on their behalf, turning victims into mules.

How to Recognise Romance Scams

The scammer will make all sorts of excuses as to why they can’t meet you in person. They often claim to be in the military or work in other jobs that require frequent travel.

Use a reverse image search to look up suitors’ profile images. Fraudsters often steal photos from real people to use in their scam profiles.

Scammers often work in groups but pose as a single person, so if you notice inconsistencies in tone, grammar, or use of emoticons, that’s a red flag.

Try arranging a video call with the suitor. Scammers will make some excuse, such as a broken camera.

Time is money, so scammers will often shower victims with affection and compliments. “Love bombing” is intended to get victims’ trust up quickly so they will send money sooner.

Never send money, private information, or compromising photos to someone who asks for them before you’ve met in person.

Tax Scams

Tax scams take many forms. They usually involve the scammer posing as the IRS. Some of these scams include:

  • Fraudsters claiming you owe a tax debt that must be paid immediately to avoid arrest.
  • Scammers filing taxes in your name and requesting a much larger refund than you’re owed. When you receive that refund, scammers call you and demand it be paid back.
  • Fraudsters claiming you have a pending refund and you can claim it at a website that is actually run by the scammers. This website asks for information that can be used for identity theft, such as your Social Security number.

How to Spot and Avoid Tax Scams

File taxes early so no one else can do it in your name.

If a caller requests payment in a specific form, such as a wire transfer, it’s probably a scam. Most tax agencies allow multiple forms of payment.

Know that the HMRC (UK), will not ask for information over email and usually won’t initiate contact over the phone. They will either send snail mail or an email alert letting you know that you have a new message that can be read by logging into your official online account.

Health Scams

Health scams usually take place online and can be extremely dangerous for victims. Here are a few examples of health scams:

  • Counterfeit and expired drugs sold on online pharmacies.
  • Promises of free medical equipment that is then billed to you or your insurance.
  • Fraudulent treatments, often associated with anti-aging or other current health threats.

How to Avoid Health Scams

Be wary of online pharmacies and other online vendors for medical treatments and equipment. No legitimate online pharmacy will send you emails or call your home if you’re not already a customer.

Never buy from a pharmacy that sells prescription drugs without a doctor’s prescription. Filling out an online questionnaire is not enough to get a prescription.

Never sign blank insurance claim forms or give blanket authorization to a medical provider. Don’t trust online, door-to-door, or over-the-phone salespeople.

Don’t Underestimate Scammers

Many people, elderly included, tend to underestimate scammers. It’s not that their tactics are particularly effective. Most people reading this have spotted and avoided scams before. Instead, people underestimate the persistence of scammers and frequency of these schemes.

Many scams – particularly those on the Internet – are cheap to operate and easy to pull off, and can be carried out without consequence to the scammer even if they are caught.

These factors allow scammers to brazenly target a lot of people in a short span of time, and they only need a tiny fraction of targets to fall victim in order to make a return on their investment.

What do you know about scams? Have you been a target of a scam? Did you recognise it as such? Did you tell anybody about it? Have you fallen victim to a scam? What made you trust the scammer? What advice do you have for others in a similar situation? Please share your thoughts and stories so no woman in our community will feel unprotected from scams.

Published: 8th September 2020

Source: Sixty and Me

Page URL:

THIIS Connect to bring the Mobility, Access and Independent Living Trade Together

THIIS Connect to bring the Mobility, Access and Independent Living Trade Together

A New digital platform designed to connect mobility buyers and sellers together,
THIIS is inviting retailers to register their interest to participate in phase 2

THIIS Magazine has launched a new platform designed to make it easy for retailers, distributors and installers to discover suppliers and the latest products in the market.

With important trade shows cancelled this year, alongside less sales representatives on the road, it can be difficult for retailers and installers in the sector to connect with suppliers to find out about the latest solutions available to end-users.

Now, as the industry finds its feet after lockdown, ensuring mobility and access buyers & sellers can continue to do business is more important than ever.

To that end, THIIS Magazine has launched THIIS Connect.

The new digital platform brings key suppliers and products in the market together in one central hub for THIIS’ 35,000+ monthly website visitors to easily discover.

THIIS Connect enables trade buyers to connect with suppliers through its supplier and product search functionality.

The supplier search function provides buyers with all the information they need to know about a manufacturer or distributor, including a company description, contact details, introductory videos and a showcase of their products.

The product search function allows buyers searching for a specific product to quickly identify which ranges are on the market, along with information about the product and supplier.

Currently in its first phase of development, the next stage of THIIS Connect will extend the search functionality to include retailers and installers. This will enable suppliers in the market to find retailers from all across the country where they may be looking for exclusive trade partners or wishing to offer unique offers.

Retailers and installers interested in having their companies featured on THIIS Connect can register their interest here:

Suppliers keen to have their details and products included on THIIS Connect should contact Joe Fahy on 07384 258 372 or email

Visit THIIS Connect to connect with suppliers and search new products here:

Published: 28th August 2020

Source: THIIS Magazine

Medway Council Selects Medequip for Community Equipment Services

Medway Council Selects Medequip for Community Equipment Services

Medway Council, which according to research released in February 2020 is one of the highest performing councils in the country for adult social care, has appointed community equipment specialists Medequip to manage CES provision across the area covered by the council including Rochester, Gillingham, Chatham and the Hoo Peninsula.

This is the third CES contract gain announced by Medequip in 2020, which means that the UK’s leading CES provider now manages more than 40 contracts supplying a range of equipment from simple aids for daily living through to more complex pieces of equipment enabling people to receive appropriate care and remain safely in their home environment.

Medequip will also provide Medway Council with advanced equipment management and reporting facilities, using the new TCES Community platform and Microsoft BI reporting capabilities to ensure greater visibility of information and customised reports to match council requirements.

Medequip is currently working with the existing provider to retain the existing depot premises,
supporting minimal disruption to service delivery team members.

“The Medequip team is proud to have been selected by Medway as their chosen partner for the
supply of community equipment,” stated Neil Harris, Medequip’s Implementation Manager for
Medway. “Working with the council, we plan to first evaluate existing service delivery systems,
current community equipment and then, in partnership, begin training and implementation of
new products and an enhanced IT solution. To support the implementation process and going
forward into the future, Medequip will work closely with service users to develop service
provision to best match their needs.”

A recent survey by IMPOWER highlighted Medway as one of 15 councils achieving greater than
average outcomes from a less than average spend per head. This research indicates that
Medway residents using social care are receiving better outcomes, alongside the council
making better use of public funds.

For further information, please contact:-
Medequip Assistive Technology
T:  020 8750 1560

Published: 13th August 2020

Source: Medequip

The “Future of Healthcare” in The Times

The “Future of Healthcare” in The Times

The global race to battle the coronavirus has ushered in a new age for medicine as pharmaceutical companies, public and private sectors collaborate like never before. The Future of Healthcare special report, published in The Times, explores the use of AI in cancer care, the popularity surge of virtual healthcare, and rising cyber uncertainties as medtech evolves. It examines why race is still a factor in antenatal care as statistics show that Black women are more likely to die during pregnancy than white women. It looks at Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and long-term mental health fears for healthcare workers after the distressing months of the pandemic. The featured infographic shows the huge success of virtual doctor’s appointments.

New Webinar Series Launched for Healthcare Professionals

New Webinar Series Launched for Healthcare Professionals

Safespaces New Webinar Series

A series of online webinars for healthcare professionals has been released by Safespaces
to provide information and guidance on Safespace products and how they can support
adults and children with complex needs.

Developed for healthcare professionals, the webinars will be led by an experienced Product
Advisor who will share their experience, best practice and success stories.
Each session will include a live presentation followed by an interactive Q&A session.

The sessions will be hosted on Zoom and all healthcare professionals are welcome to join!

The webinar series is detailed below.

Tuesday 25th August – 11:00 am

Creating safer environments: An Introduction to Safespace products

This webinar will provide an overview of Safespaces multi-purpose safe room and specialist
high sided bed range. We’ll explore how each product is designed to meet the complex needs
of its users.

Click here to register!

Tuesday 8th September  11:00 am

The Safespace: Challenging Behaviours, Sensory Processing
and Sleep Disorders

Focusing on the Safespace multi-purpose safe room we will explore the key benefits including
improved sleep hygiene, behaviour self-management and how it can be an effective tool to
deliver a sensory diet.

Click here to register!

Tuesday 22nd September 11:00 am

Assessment, Funding and Design: Meeting the Needs

Not sure how to specify a Safespace product for a client? We will talk you through the process
including a joint client assessment, where to obtain funding and the design options available.

Click here to register!

More webinars will be announced soon!

Published: 13th August 2020

Source: Safespaces

New Get wise Leaflet to Help Accessing Wheelchair Services

New Get wise Leaflet to Help Accessing Wheelchair Services

BHTA, working with key member companies, has produced a new information leaflet called, “Get wise to Accessing Wheelchair Services (COVID19)”. The information seeks to advise users, on how to access the support available to them, now that many services are returning to work.

The BHTA group members feel that this is a vital next step in driving the key levers that will ensure services can continue to improve, and start to meet the built up demand from users across the country. Users can be confident that their provider and supplier are working together, to reduce the clinical risk involved in these interactions.

The Get wise document is another tool in the return to work programme, and BHTA is delighted, once again, to be working very closely with key providers and suppliers, to ensure that best practice is at the forefront of what is likely to be the new normal.

The New Get wise to Accessing Wheelchair Services can be downloaded by Clicking Here

Andrew Stevenson,
BHTA Chairman

Published: 10th August 2020

Bucking the Trend; BES Invests in R&D Despite the Pandemic

Bucking the Trend; BES Invests in R&D Despite the Pandemic

There are wide spread concerns that the COVID-19 pandemic will leave a “lost generation” in its wake, with many young people not having the employment opportunities that they would have otherwise had. If this does turn out to be the case then it could be one of the greatest losses as a result of the pandemic. Putting this pessimism to one side, BES Healthcare, a local business in Bristol has been doing its part to try and support young and promising people.

This Summer, with University of West of England’s (UWE) support, BES took on two undergraduate students from UWE for a summer internship. This gave the two students, one studying occupational therapy and the other product design, an invaluable opportunity to get some “real world” experience to supplement their course, strengthen their CV, and earn some income.

This summer internship was partly funded by a grant from the university and partly by BES directly, demonstrating how education institutions and private enterprises can work effectively together to deliver valuable employment opportunities despite these challenging times.

Normally when a crisis hits the first things that businesses cut are marketing, R&D, and recruitment. This is an understandable knee jerk reaction; however, it severely compromises a company’s future success. BES bucked the trend this summer and the interns from UWE were taken on to conduct two R&D projects – one to develop PPE for people living with disabilities, and the other to develop the company’s existing specialist seating range for children with disabilities. Along the way BES provided an educational programme covering various aspects of specialist seating and positioning theory, and insights into infection prevention, and the world of international standards and regulations that govern these markets.

Some might think “well it is fine for you as a healthcare business”, sadly not all is at it seems. Certainly, some areas of healthcare have been protected or even boosted by the pandemic, however this isn’t the case across
the piece. BES has seen significant drop offs in business as the NHS has pulled resources into treating COVID
patients, and with service users reluctant to return to healthcare settings for routine treatments and therapies.
Like so many other businesses we have had to rely on various forms of government support to stay afloat, but this
hasn’t meant we can’t simultaneously invest in our future and that of other people.

It was a challenge for both the company and the interns to work effectively under social distancing restrictions,
but solutions could always be found whether it be through video conferencing technology, file sharing and
collaboration software, and carefully controlled meet ups. It also required some out-off-box thinking to overcome
various constraints, for instance we had to keep up production and dispatch but at the same time allow access to
our products and facilities.

BES is very proud to have been able to offer this internship opportunity at such a difficult time with the support of
the university. The interns will take valuable learnings from the experience and be able to strengthen their CVs,
which should serve them well when they graduate. BES has benefited from new product designs that have resulted
from the interns’ work and will be taking these into production in the future. This in turn should benefit multiple
users of this equipment in the future.

Published: 10th August 2020

Source: BES Healthcare Limited

Inspire Community Trust Announces New Clinical Manager

Inspire Community Trust Announces New Clinical Manager
Angela, Clinical Manager, Inspire Community Trust

Inspire community trust is pleased to announce Angela Harding is joining them as Clinical Manager.

Angela has many years’ experience in high level contracts in NHS and commercial settings, and instigating and overseeing training, as well as GDPR and Information Governance.

Haydn Pugh, Operations Director for Inspire said “We are all thrilled Angela is joining us. I first worked with Angela in the Westmeria days and her skills, knowledge and professionalism are recognised industry wide. Our team at Inspire are excited to be working with her again which shows the respect she is held in.  We have seen significant improvements since changing our
offering and Angela complements these, and our future development plans.”

Angela commented “ The opportunity to work with Inspire and their team was too good an opportunity to pass on. Their culture
and ethics match my own, making this an ideal situation for both Inspire and I.”

Published: 30th July 2020

MEDEQUIP: Rising to the Challenges of a New way of Working

MEDEQUIP: Rising to the Challenges of a New way of Working

The current global pandemic has challenged organisations in every sector and presented them with the steepest of learning curves. For those of us faced with keeping both our own staff and potentially vulnerable service users safe in the face of this new and invisible enemy, the issues have been many and varied.

At Medequip, their management team swiftly recognised the potential magnitude of the impending crisis, and acted promptly to combat the identified issues. They set up a COVID 19 working group at the beginning of March, meeting daily to address fast changing situations, bringing together both senior management and operational teams.

Their initial efforts were focused around safety, identifying and putting into place the procedures and protocols which would enable them to continue to operate their vital collection and delivery business processes without risking spreading the virus.

Sourcing PPE for their frontline staff was an obvious challenge, coupling with ensuring they had the right equipment in stock to support the fast pace of hospital discharges, responding to rising demand for community beds to support the NHS by freeing up the maximum number of hospital beds.

Coming together in the face of the crisis

Facilitated by the BHTA, MD level discussions took place across the community equipment sector involving themselves, NRS Healthcare, Millbrook Healthcare and Ross Care. They all focused on sharing best practices and working together to maximise continuity of services and products for local authorities and the NHS, addressing issues including activity levels, geographical pressures, PPE and availability of qualified staff.

Other key initiatives have included an urgent appeal in association with the BHTA for the return of beds and other items of equipment loaned through Community Equipment Services that was no longer in use, to optimise availability for hospital discharges.

Working to store, sort and distribute PPE

Elsewhere across our organisation, the resourcefulness of their people came to the fore. Cefndy Medequip, their unique Community Equipment Service partnership in Gwent, cooperated with Gwent-Wide Integrated Community Equipment Service (GWICES) to help with vital PPE for the care sector in South Wales, storing equipment and distributing to five local hubs in Caerphilly, Monmouthshire, Newport, Blaenau Gwent and Torfaen.

The Cefndy-Medequip partnership has now processed millions of individual items, including face visors supplied by the Royal Mint, receiving large deliveries that needed to be offloaded, counted, split and delivered the same day. This operation has been replicated in other areas of the country too, including across Greater London and North Somerset.

Using our skills and budding talents

Agility and imagination has played a part too. When Gallions View Care home in Greenwich was being set up as a specialist centre for COVID-19 patients to ease the burden on the local hospital and other care facilities, the local Medequip team based at Woolwich was tasked with installing beds and associated items to equip 30 care rooms.

Medequip Centre of Excellence trainer Paul Cockburn proposed a novel solution. “With 10 trainees on his cohort at their training centre in Woolwich, it seemed like an excellent idea to put their studies and knowledge to good use in support of our team on the ground,” said Paul. “Following discussions and planning with our local operational team, it was decided to mobilise our apprentice technicians to complete the work.”

The equipment was delivered in to the care home, some of it directly from suppliers and some from Medequip’s Woolwich depot. At 9 o’clock on 7 April, the team of trainees began work; no special PPE was needed as the facility was empty, awaiting its first patients. By lunchtime they had successfully installed a total of 30 low level profiling beds and mattresses, commodes, overbed tables and high back chairs, as well as two mobile hoists and two floor standing hoists and the rooms were ready to admit their first inpatients.

Following the success of this initiative, the team of trainees were in action again at Time Court in Charlton, a care unit with COVID-19 patients already on the wards. Here, Medequip took extra care with government-approved PPE, maintaining strict distancing from patients and staff. Within one and a half hours four beds had been installed complete with siderails, mattresses and two hoists, all ready for use with minimal disruption to the work on the unit.

“At Medequip, they are very proud of our teams around the country who continue to handle an increased workload to ensure vulnerable people continue to get the support they need and to help with hospital discharges,” stated MD David Griffiths. “This is a great example of the Medequip team at its very best, working together for the good of our service users, using ingenuity and expertise to make sure we can match the new challenges we have been facing on a daily basis.”

Feeding the front line staff

Other individuals at Medequip have also been taking time to support front line NHS staff. Heathrow Warehouse Supervisor Jamie Welland is particularly aware of the challenges they face as his fiancée is a nurse at the hospital, working long hours to give the patients the care they need to overcome COVID-19. She told Jamie just how important the many food and drink donations from local businesses have been in keeping front line workers motivated, just by knowing how much people care.

So Jamie and his Heathrow colleagues decided to help too. They started fundraising, and Jamie got in contact with a team coordinating a food bank at Hillingdon Hospital serving key workers who have so little time and energy to shop and cater for themselves. Many workers used the small donations for meal time and lunch time sustenance – a small thing but having food and drink at their disposal was very uplifting and very helpful to many of them.

The team has also been able to donate £500 to the hospital charity dedicated to building better wards and improved facilities for patients and staff. Some £200 remaining went to another charity supplying hot meals for hospital staff.

Keeping in touch and providing practical support

Medequip Connect telecare has played an important role on the Wirral, carrying out free of charge wellbeing and welfare calls to support the local community. Manage At Home, Medequip’s online platform, continued to operate at capacity throughout lockdown, with a record number of website visits and sales of aids for independent living in support of people shielding in their own homes.

“Medequip has learned and developed alongside the shifting challenges of this pandemic,” said James Ibbotson, Chief Executive Officer. “The crisis has tested the agility of our management team, who have successfully planned and put appropriate responses into place quickly and effectively – including matching the technological demands from a business and IT perspective of ensuring we had a maximum number of people able to work safely from home yet continue to provide vital support for staff and service users across the country.”

Visit the Medequip Website:

Published: 17th July 2020

Source: Medequip

CCAS celebrates five years of ADR with £12.7M consumer recovery

CCAS celebrates five years of ADR with £12.7M consumer recovery

The Consumer Codes Approval Scheme (CCAS) celebrates five years of Alternative Dispute Regulations (ADR) consumer regulations and its achievements during this period.

The ADR regulations were launched in 2015 to create better relations between consumer and traders, and encourage dispute resolution without going to court. Over the past five years, over 68,000 UK businesses joined the scheme and over £12.7M was recovered for consumers. In April, a report revealed that CCAS now protects almost £135bn of consumer transactions, a 62% year-on-year increase.

By assisting consumers and businesses, ADR within CCAS helps both avoid costly court proceedings and enables them to reach an agreement quicker. Consumers gain access to a clear complaint and ADR procedure. Businesses are regularly audited and monitored to ensure they comply with the high standards set by their approved code of practice. By using an approved trader, consumers have protection above and beyond regular consumer law rights.

CTSI Chief Executive and Interim Chair of the CCAS Board, Leon Livermore, said: “ADR has proved vital for strengthening the relationship between UK consumers and businesses. I am proud of CCAS’ achievements over the past five years, and I look forward to its continuing growth and development as we come out of the coronavirus lockdown, and over the next five years.”

Soure: Chartered Trading Standards Institute

Confident Acorn Enjoys Strong Growth

Confident Acorn Enjoys Strong Growth

Acorn Stairlifts, the Yorkshire-based manufacturer and retailer of home stairlifts, has reported “another successful year”, with group revenue up by 7.4% to £241.1 million.

Acorn Stairlifts Vehicle.

The firm’s newly published annual report and financial statement is for the year ended September 30th, 2019, so doesn’t include the impact of this year’s Covid-19 pandemic or Brexit. However, the directors in their strategic report express confidence the business can overcome both these challenges.

As well as increased turnover, the annual report shows Acorn’s operating profit at £27.7 million, up from £22.2 million the previous year. The privately-owned business – founded as a one-man operation in Bradford in 1992 – now employs 1,588 people worldwide, up by 52 on the previous year. More than 500 work at or from its head offices and factory on the Millennium Business Park in Steeton, near Keighley.

The latest figures show that export sales of Acorn’s British-made stairlifts now account for 71.5% of its total turnover as overseas markets continue to expand. The company exports to around 80 countries worldwide and has wholly-owned subsidiaries operating in North America, Canada, Germany, Italy, South Africa, Australia and
New Zealand. The North American market in particular experienced very positive sales growth during the year
covered by the report.

Acorn Stairlifts Vehicle.

As part of the essential medical and social care supply chain, Acorn has operated throughout the pandemic, maintaining existing customers’ stairlifts and installing new ones in cases of compelling need. Looking to the future, Acorn’s board of directors has identified two key areas of risk and uncertainty – the impact of the global Covid-19 pandemic and the anticipated effects of Brexit.

Although the crisis is likely to affect next year’s figures, the directors are confident its detrimental impact will be temporary and followed by gradual recovery in 2020 and beyond. With strong cash reserves and no bank debt, the business is also well-placed to meet any challenges.

Regarding Brexit, Acorn has taken positive steps to strengthen and protect its supply routes into and out of Europe, including increasing stock levels within mainland Europe. Although there could be an impact on the European exchange rate, approximately 85% of Acorn’s total revenue comes from within the UK or other non-EU countries. For these and other reasons, the report concludes that: “Brexit is not expected to have a significant impact on the business”.

Acorn Stairlifts’ Financial Director Joanne Richardson.

Acorn’s Group Finance Director Joanne Richardson commented: “Our latest results show continued sales growth both in the UK and our overseas markets. Improved operational efficiencies have positively impacted the overall result. maintaining our market leading position. The Covid-19 pandemic emerged after this results period and the business has had to adapt during this challenging time. However, we expect the effects to be short term.”

For further information about Acorn Stairlifts or to organise an interview or receive further comments,
please email Duncan Smith at:

Notes to editors:

  • Acorn Stairlifts is a world leader in the manufacture, installation and innovation of stairlifts.
  • Headquartered at Steeton, West Yorkshire, Acorn Stairlifts has sales and service staff based throughout the UK.
  • Acorn Stairlifts produces around 70,000 stairlifts per year at its factories in Yorkshire and Scotland.
  • More than 70% of Acorn Stairlifts are for the export market, supplying around 80 countries worldwide including the USA, where Acorn is the recognised market leader.
  • Acorn Stairlifts provides the fastest installation of stairlifts for curved staircases in the world – in some cases within 24 hours of an order being placed.
  • Acorn Stairlifts is a British manufacturer with a nationwide and international network of expert installers and service engineers.
  • Acorn Stairlifts are precision manufactured, and designed and built in the UK.
  • Somewhere in the world, an Acorn Stairlift is installed every eight minutes.

Published: 8th July 2020

Source: Acorn Stairlifts

Kapitex Help Laryngectomy Patients Stranded in Turkey in Lockdown

Kapitex Help Laryngectomy Patients Stranded in Turkey in Lockdown

Kapitex was alerted to the urgent needs of a laryngectomy patient who was on holiday in Turkey when the pandemic started.
The lady became stranded just as the lockdown happened and was unable to travel back to the UK. With only three weeks
supply left of her medication, the panic and realisation set in, that she would run out of products.
As it was in the middle of the pandemic getting anything out of the country was a challenge not to mention the customs

Her normal DAC suppliers were unable to get any products to her and Kapitex were made aware of this. They were able to
send her a large box of supplies FOC to see her through. It was not straight forward though and took many calls to DHL,
customs and the hotel where she was staying to eventually get them to her.
Finally they arrived two weeks later and delivered at 2am in the morning. This lady was over the moon as you can imagine,
at a very stressful time for her. The lady went on to write a very nice piece in the CLAN magazine describing her experience
and thanking Kapitex for their great service.

Kapitex have remained open throughout Covid-19, albeit with a skeleton staff. Their Warehouse staff have worked non-stop
throughout the pandemic to ensure the critical products have been  delivered on time to NHSSC. Through the peak of the
pandemic Kapitex has shipped in excess of £1million of critical airway products to NHSSC who were supplying all the trusts
throughout the UK Including the Nightingale Hospitals

Another great story of BHTA members going above and beyond to support customers in a time of need.  

Visit their website:

Published: 3rd July 2020

Source: Kapitex

MediSmart Step up to the Challenge of Manufacturing Pressure Care Systems

MediSmart Step up to the Challenge of Manufacturing Pressure Care Systems

MediSmart Technologies, a BHTA member company and a UK design and manufacturer of pressure care systems, was asked, at very short notice, to manufacture hybrid mattresses and pumps for the NHS Nightingale Hospitals during the pandemic. Their production line was adapted and enhanced overnight which meant additional working shifts were employed including weekend working to fulfil a orders urgently required.

In addition to the manufacture and supply to all other sectors of the NHS and social care community settings, MediSmart Technologies’ factory worked from the start and throughout the pandemic to assist in this time of crisis. As a UK manufacturer they had the added benefit of being able to offer the NHS and care sectors quick deliveries, being less reliant on a long lead time at a time of emergency.

Additionally, MediSmart Technologies’ sister company, Barton Medical, was asked to respond to the nationwide call on providing medical face masks in this time of emergency.

Immediately Barton Medical got to work by designing, tooling and adapting the production line to manufacture something different-a non disposable, re-usable bio compatible EN14683 Type IIR medical face masks manufactured here in the U.K. to assist in these challenging times and to subsequently reduce the environmental impact.Many thousands have been manufactured to protect the work forces in the care sector, including many BHTA members

Visit their website at:

Published: 3rd July 2020

Source: Medismart

Wenman Healthcare Ltd Maintain Services during Coivid-19

Wenman Healthcare Ltd Maintain Services during Coivid-19

Mobility retailer Wenman Healthcare Limited managed to remain open during the pandemic even despite it being very quiet initially when everyone went into lockdown.

This in turn put strain on the reduced remaining team who went well beyond the call of duty, working extra hours to cover the gaps and where absolutely necessary going into homes affected with C-19 wearing the appropriate PPE to maintain their vital services.

Wenman Healthcare took customer and staff safety as paramount, and ensured that they issued free PPE to anyone needing it when working, visiting or dealing with them..

Covid -19 has brought many challenges, when delivering or visiting customers, and delivered any emergency supplies as necessary. One of their stranger requests , included one ladies weekly booze supply, which they were happy to arrange.

They have extended their loans and hires service as necessary, to enable customers to keep the products they needed at no extra cost.

The company team members have also individually risen to the Covid challenge using their own personal time to offer help in their community. Some offered to shop for those that couldn’t get out, man their reception when they were overloaded  and  provide a truncated first aid course for a company that was struggling as they had lost their existing trained team members and were worried should anything happen to a member of their team. The company was still working as an emergency service themselves.

There are many individual stories during the pandemic, but the company went out of our way to source a power chair for a customer with severe learning difficulties who lives in their chair day to day. The previous chair failed and therefore he was really struggling and was unable to get out of bed. Due to delays from the supplier and components being in short supply, they provided a loan chair, having to make modifications as necessary.

Ian Wenman has been proud of his staff’s efforts and even his wife has got involved sewing scrubs for the local hospitals. A great team effort.

Click the link to visit the website:


Published: 3rd July 2020

Source: Wenman Healthcare

Millbrook Step up to Covid-19 Challenges

Millbrook Step up to Covid-19 Challenges

With unprecedented levels of demand on acute care services, timely hospital discharge was essential in supporting their health and social care colleagues, freeing up beds for those critically ill. In support of this, they extended their operating hours to 7 days per week, making over 30,000 equipment deliveries to those leaving hospital and returning home.

In addition to the supply of community equipment, they also became the co-ordination hub for PPE across Devon and Warwickshire, ensuring vital PPE reached NHS frontline workers in their fight against the virus. Emergency PPE supplies were stored in their warehouses, with prompt deliveries coordinated to all their healthcare colleagues.

Throughout the pandemic, the availability of essential PPE has been critically important. The procurement team has worked tirelessly to ensure their teams had appropriate PPE to keep themselves and their service users safe. 

Millbrook became aware that many vital charitable organisation were struggling to obtain appropriate PPE and therefore they committed themselves to support local charities across the country. Donating 48,000 face masks, made a real difference in the communities they served.

Lee Davies, Business Development Director at Millbrook Healthcare, said:

“During the Coronavirus pandemic our priority has been to maintain the safety and wellbeing of our colleagues and our service users, by having the PPE stocks required.

“We’re pleased that we’re able to donate some of this equipment to charities that need support in the communities that we are proud to be a part of.”

To support the local community, and in recognition of those who were particularly at risk, during the Easter period Millbrook donated 1,000 Easter eggs to Southampton City Council. The eggs were included in COVID-19 food parcels and distributed to the city’s most vulnerable families.

They were immensely proud to have played their part in supporting the national effort against coronavirus; supporting new NHS hospital discharge procedures, providing essential equipment and ensuring the safety and wellbeing of their service users in their home and in their community.

As keyworkers they have continued to operate throughout the pandemic, supporting NHS and Social Care services by extending their hours and operating seven days a week.

Service continuity was maintained in line with government guidelines and new working practices.  Millbrook introduced a number of controls including mandatory PPE, contactless deliveries and collections and social distancing. Where possible, remote operations were conducted including virtual assessments, preventing unnecessary delays to care provision.

During the pandemic:

  • They carried out c.30,000 urgent equipment deliveries to service users leaving hospital, ensuring their safety and independence at home.
  • Donated 48,000 facemasks to charitable organisations across the country, ensuring provision of essential PPE for their workforce.
  • Their subsidiary company, Ultimate Healthcare supplied 250 beds to Nightingale hospitals, supporting the national response.

Commenting on the Nightingale project Tom Reaney, Commercial Director of Ultimate Healthcare said:

“Ultimate Healthcare have worked tirelessly in these past few months ensuring we’re able to supply much needed equipment to both the NHS and local authorities.  Many challenges have been overcome in meeting the exceptional demand from coronavirus, while at the same time maintaining a first class service to our existing customers. It’s taken a huge team effort and I’m proud of the commitment and contribution they’ve made in keeping people safe during these very difficult times.”

Consolor, a division of the Millbrook Healthcare Group, responded to a plea from the Regional Posture and Mobility Service in Birmingham following difficulties in obtaining PPE.

Alongside our usual operations, the team transformed to produce component parts needed for medical visors. They supplied Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Trust with foam forehead supports and elastic straps to hold the visors in place, helping ensure their protection against the virus.

To overcome delivery issues, Consolor drove the parts from Southampton to Birmingham ensuring supplies were received directly, as quickly as possible.

Millbrook are an active member of the communities they serve, and provided project management for a new disabled and dementia wellbeing facility, located at Werrington Library. Working with FDL as the contracting partner, our HIA team ensured these spaces were disability, dementia friendly and accessible to all.

The facilities comprises two therapy lodges, and a third providing a disabled and dementia friendly toilet, based around an accessible patio and garden area.

Millbrook Healthcare Operations Manager Diane Bradshaw presented the keys to Wellbeing Coordinator Wendy Sandbrook, using the same silver spade used to break the ground, at the beginning of the project.

Commenting on the project, Diane said:

“Millbrook Healthcare are delighted to have worked alongside Werrington Community Volunteer Group, Staffordshire Moorlands District Council and FDL Contractors on this project. The dedication and commitment from each and every member of the team has made a real difference to the community, without which this UK-first health and wellbeing project would not have been possible. Focusing on Mental Wellbeing and Dementia, and despite the impact of COVID-19, has being a long awaited dream that has now become reality.”

The project was funded by the Disability Facility Grant, the National Lottery Reaching Communities Fund and Staffordshire Moorlands District Council.

Millbrook are proud to deliver a service on behalf of the NHS and social care. And as key workers, they see all of our colleagues as heroes – Millbrook Heroes.

They provided all of our colleagues with Millbrook Heroes rainbow pictures to colour in with their families, to help occupy their children during lockdown.

Tyler Ashworth-Hansford (Age 9)

Published: 3rd July 2020

Source: Millbrook Healthcare

Jiraffe offer Face to Face Appointments during Covid-19

Jiraffe offer Face to Face Appointments during Covid-19

The Covid-19 pandemic has been a challenge for many BHTA members but rising to the challenge has really proved ingenuity at its best.

Jiraffe were one supplier that didn’t close its doors and worked with a combination of face-to-face  appointments alongside virtual/video assessments to support their customers.

They offered to transfer equipment from schools to homes free of charge to ensure children still had access to their support equipment where possible.

Jiraffe launched the Emergency Posture Provision Scheme, aimed at giving families instant access to a range of equipment on a low-cost, flexible loan scheme, to ensure vulnerable children we able to access
vital equipment, even if their usual services were withdrawn.

The company has supported a ‘Safe Space Clinic’ with a therapy team at Pavilion House in Cheshire, working alongside them to ensure families could be confident the safety of their children at the clinic.

Jiraffe have introduced Knowledge and Know-How, where they will be releasing a range of videos, downloads and training opportunities, which started with Assessing for Seating.

Visit their website for more information:


“I just wanted to take the opportunity to thank Jiraffe, it has been a please dealing with your company through these difficult times of Covid-Restrictions” PT, Ireland

“In lockdown Jiraffe has been very supportive in helping out students with complex needs” PT, London

Published: 2nd July 2020

Source: Jiraffe

Supporting Service Users, Health and Social Care Professionals and Commissioners

Supporting Service Users, Health and Social Care Professionals and Commissioners

Supporting Service Users, Health and Social Care Professionals and Commissioners

During the pandemic, NRS staff have visited over 16,000 people who have either been diagnosed with Covid-19 or are suspected of having the virus. These visits have all been to people in urgent need of equipment as well as extra support to recover and live safely at home. However, the achievement was  not the volume of visits alone, but the speed in which these visits were undertaken, the care and attention of their staff who have completed these visits. The positive impact they have had on the individuals, their support networks and professionals involved in their care is the true success. 

Staff delivering their services across the UK moved quickly to seven day working to align with the NHS and anticipated increased demand. They saw a spike in urgent orders to facilitate hospital discharges nationwide which were fulfilled in record time. They also received many special requests, including to assist with the evacuation of care home residents after a fire broke out (Brighton and Hove) and to provide and help with the set-up of equipment for a local Nightingale style hospital (Olympic Lodge in Buckinghamshire).

Every request has been met with a can-do, flexible and collaborative approach that has ensured the individual needs of the Service Users and key stakeholders that they serve are met.

Implementing not one, but two new services

NRS have been successful in their bids for both the West Sussex Technology Enabled Care Service (TECS) and Southampton and Portsmouth Integrated Community Equipment Service (ICES), where they were faced with the unique challenge of implementing two new services during the coronavirus outbreak. Their West Sussex TEC Service which commenced on the 19th May 2020 was smooth and successful despite the restrictions on travel, social interactions etc. Two significant challenges to overcome were that team members were located all over the UK and barriers to usual TECS implementation methods due to social distancing measures. Typically, implementation involves co-production with stakeholders and training of referrers via a series of face-to-face workshops, which could not take place whilst maintaining social distancing restrictions. In response, their teams quickly mobilised and adapted their approach to fit with the new virtual ways of working and delivered on time and to plan – something that has been recognised and valued by their Commissioners.

Through the hard work and determination of their staff across the UK, both in the community and behind the scenes, NRS Healthcare has quickly evolved in ways which have improved their organisation for now and the future. The feedback received confirms how their person-centred high-quality service is having a positive impact on Service Users’ lives. NRS will strive to keep improving and adapting throughout the pandemic and beyond; ensuring people are safe and feel supported to live independently in their own homes.


‘Right from the start the NRS teams all stepped up and showed a willingness and bravery with their roles despite, for many, their increased personal risk and this is reflected in the amount of positive feedback received during this time from both professionals and clients.’
Trish Guest – Commissioner, Berkshire Community Equipment Service

 ‘I have been pleased and impressed by NRS Healthcare’s implementation of the West Sussex Technology Enabled Care (TEC) contract. They have demonstrated strong planning, communication and the ability to address the unforeseen and changing circumstances as they have arisen. Their ability to work with WSCC and the NHS and use their experience of TEC to co-create with us solutions to these issues has helped us deliver the new contract on time even with all the challenges COVID-19 has presented.’
Sue Tivey – Senior Contracts Officer, Directorate of Children, Adults’, Families, Health & Education, West Sussex County Council

Published: 2nd July 2020

Source: NRS Healthcare

The Vita Group takes Action to Remain Open and Protect Employees

The Vita Group takes Action to Remain Open and Protect Employees

The Vita Group took swift action early in the crisis to remain open and protect our employees. Vita implemented social distancing & hygiene measures at all sites (26 March 2020: We provided additional rest room and toilets for drivers delivering to our sites; these were very welcome since many companies were not allowing drivers to use facilities. Vita was proud to remain open throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and was able to manufacture critical supplies of foam for healthcare customers and support the NHS Nightingale projects (details of the work by Vita Middleton, Dukinfield, Bedford and Stakehill on 6 April:

Collaboration across Vita supplied valuable components for medical and hygiene products including foam mattresses, filters and re-breathe bags for ventilators and foam to improve the comfort of visors. Many of these products required novel innovations to meet rapidly changing requirements and specifications. Our understanding of polymers and material science, along with our high standards of product suitability, quality and safety, has delivered rapid solutions such as face visor comfort seals (10 April: Our teams have worked tirelessly throughout the UK lockdown to supply our healthcare customers with urgent deliveries and satisfy critical lead-times.

Our latest development the “Vita Shield” face covering was designed and developed primarily for Vita employees (19 June: It has proved successful with our teams and is now offered for sale outside of The Vita Group. I have attached a brochure for your convenience along with some production images.

Published: 1st July 2020

Source: The Vita Group

Redwood TTM Support Production of Protective Gowns for the NHS

Redwood TTM Support Production of Protective Gowns for the NHS

England and NHS Scotland ensuring a steady supply of UK produced products.

Redwood supported the NHS with the manufacture of a variety of medical
products and specifically mattresses for the specialist Nightingale hospitals.

Redwood already had experience creating products for the medical sector and
identified that they had transferable skills to help them win the contracts for
gown manufacture for the NHS.

They have remained open on full production throughout the pandemic, winning
contracts for critical healthcare ensured around 100 people were not put on
Redwood were proud to be able to support the NHS through these difficult

Published: 1st July 2020

Source: Redwood

Core Medical Rise to the PPE Challenge

Core Medical Rise to the PPE Challenge

Core medical have been busy during the pandemic supporting deliveries and training with PPE products. They sent Free masks to many good causes, including the Ambulance Service who were struggling to get hold of their stock (pic above). Other organisations included, Bow School London, Hebden Green School, Tarporley Hospice, Countess of Chester, Clatterbridge Hospital and many more.

A special thank you came from Blind Veterans UK. “ I am very happy to report that 20k face masks arrived safely at our Brighton Centre, which felt a little like the cavalry riding over the hill. I am seriously grateful to Core Med for coming forward and offering their support, as indeed are the Brighton staff who shared their appreciation to me for the support in their own inimitable way. When the pandemic is over, our staff would be delighted to welcome representatives of Core Med to the Brighton Centre to thank you in person”.
Nick Caplin CEO.

Published: 1st July 2020

Source: Core Medical

Gene Discovery in Fruit Flies ‘Opens New Doors’ for Hearing Loss Cure in Older People

Gene Discovery in Fruit Flies ‘Opens New Doors’ for Hearing Loss Cure in Older People

Scientists at UCL have discovered sets of regulatory genes, which are responsible for maintaining healthy hearing. The finding, made in fruit flies, could potentially lead to treatments for age-related hearing loss (ARHL) in humans.

Globally one third of people (1.23 billion people) aged over 65 experience hearing loss, and while there are thought to be more than 150 candidate genes which may affect hearing loss, there is no unified view on how to use these to develop novel preventive or curative hearing loss therapies.

In the study, published in Scientific Reports, researchers at the UCL Ear Institute assessed the hearing ability of the common fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) across its life span (around 70 days*), to see if their hearing declines with age.

The fruit fly is a powerful model in biology and its ear shares many molecular similarities with the ears of humans, which make it an ideal tool for the
study of human hearing loss. However, so far, no study had assessed the fruit flies’ hearing across their life course.

Using advanced biomechanical, neurophysiological and behavioural techniques**, the researchers found that the antennal ears of fruit flies also display ARHL with nearly all measures of sensitive hearing starting to decline after 50 days of age.

With this knowledge, the researchers turned their interest to the time before flies developed ARHL: they wanted to know if there were any ‘age-variable’
genes in the flies’ Johnston’s Organ (their ‘inner ear’), which have kept the ears healthy for 50 days of their lives.

Using a combination of molecular biology, bioinformatics and mutant analysis, the researchers identified a new set of transcriptional regulator genes:
these are so called ‘homeostasis genes’, meaning they are the genetic actuators, so they control the activity which keeps the ear sensitive.

For researchers, one of the principle advantages of the fruit fly model is that it allows for easily testing the roles of individual genes by either increasing
their function (overexpression) or silencing them (RNAi interference). Exploiting these tools, researchers also found that manipulating some of the homeostasis genes could prevent the flies from getting ARHL.

Lead author Professor Joerg Albert (UCL Ear Institute) said: “While many studies have been conducted into the hearing function of fruit flies, ours is the
first to look at the mechanistic and molecular detail of their auditory life course.

“Our twin discoveries that fruit flies experience age-related hearing loss and that their prior auditory health is controlled by a particular set of genes, is a significant breakthrough. The fact that these genes are conserved in humans will also help to focus future clinical research in humans and thereby
accelerate the discovery of novel pharmacological or gene-therapeutic strategies.

“Building on our findings from Drosophila, we have already started a follow-up drug discovery project designed to fast-track novel treatments for human ARHL.”

Dr Ralph Holme, Executive Director of Research at Action on Hearing Loss, said: “We urgently need to find effective treatments able to prevent or slow the loss of hearing as we age.

“Hearing loss affects 70% of people aged over 70 years old, cutting people off from friends and family.

“Action on Hearing Loss is proud to have been able to support this exciting research that has identified genes involved in maintaining hearing.

“It not only advances our understanding of why hearing declines with age, but importantly also opens the door to the future development of treatments to prevent it.”

Funding for this research was received from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), Action on Hearing Loss and the European Research Council (ERC).

*At 25 degrees, one day for a fly is equivalent (approximately) to one year for a human.

**Techniques: Laser Doppler Vibrometry (biomechanics), Compound Action Potential (CAP) recordings (neurophysiology), Sound-induced locomotor activity (behaviour).

Published: 3rd June 2020

Source: Action on Hearing Loss

Page URL:

Pelican Healthcare Hits Manufacturing High Despite Covid-19

Pelican Healthcare Hits Manufacturing High Despite Covid-19

Pelican Healthcare Ltd, one of the UK’s leading manufacturers of disposable stoma products in the UK and Ireland healthcare markets, has achieved record levels of manufacturing during the Covid-19 pandemic, despite having to recruit and train half its production workforce due to the virus. 

For the first two weeks of the pandemic, approximately 50 per cent of its manufacturing workforce needed to self-isolate, decreasing to 33% after this period, necessitating a strong recruitment drive that saw 22 temporary staff appointed in just two weeks. These recruits will remain in place until Welsh Government advice on vulnerable adults changes. The additional shortfall in production capacity has been supported by Pelican’s core staff working an additional 600 hours per month. This has ensured record levels of manufacturing, an increase of approximately 35%, and supply of
products to customers has remained constant.

In addition, Pelican Healthcare’s Customer Services team has ensured trade orders are fulfilled so that the network of Dispensing Appliance Contractors (DACs) and pharmacies around the UK have adequate stock.

Part of the Eakin Group, Pelican Healthcare offers a wide range of innovative ostomy and continence products, including pouches, skin care products, support garments and other lines. Through its sister company, Respond Healthcare, it provides prescription dispensing, home delivery and support services to the stoma and continence care community throughout the UK. 

The Covid-19 pandemic meant Pelican had to quickly reorganise its staff and introduce new ways of working within its manufacturing centre, which has included an even more stringent cleansing regime, the introduction of new protective equipment and guarding measures for staff, as well as social distancing.

Commenting on the measures taken and success that has been achieved over the last three months, Dr Paul Eakin, UK CEO said: “I am delighted with how we were able to respond to the very serious situation the world finds itself in and continue to meet the vital needs of our customers across the UK.

“The products we manufacture and deliver are absolutely crucial to people’s lives, without which they simply wouldn’t be able to function. Customers have told us for example, they would be in ‘big trouble without us keeping supplies arriving regularly’. This meant that our response to Covid-19 was absolutely critical and having delays to our manufacturing operation and supply network was simply not an option.

“I am extremely proud of all the staff who have gone above and beyond during this pandemic, working extra-long shifts, whilst working in new ways and learning new skills. They have simply been outstanding and I can’t speak highly enough of them.”

Pelican and Respond Healthcare have also launched the #BeTheChange campaign to further help its customers go about their daily lives within Wales.

The campaign aims to educate the public and garner greater understanding of the needs of people living with hidden illnesses such as a stoma.

Working with its customers the campaign is pushing for changes in society including:

  • new signage on accessible toilets, highlighting that not all chronic illnesses and health issues can be seen 
  • for Local Authorities across Wales to adjust waste collections in recognition of the issues people living with a stoma face

Published: 30th June 2020

Source: Pelican Healthcare

Felgains Thank NHS and Key Workers

Felgains Thank NHS and Key Workers

Over the past few months at Felgains they have watched with growing admiration at the selfless dedication of all those involved in care – they are an inspiration to us all.
From the frontline NHS workers to all those in social care, not to mention carers working in care homes and those in domiciliary care, they wanted to extend gratitude in our own unique way, and they felt a personalised video was the perfect way to do so.
From the team at Felgains, to all  working in care, they say: Thank You.

Published: 25th August 2020

Source: Felgains

Video URL:

TPG DisableAids Limited comes to the help of Local Voluntary Organisation

TPG DisableAids Limited comes to the help of Local Voluntary Organisation

Mobility specialist TPG DisableAids of Hereford, were approached by the local volunteering hub who were looking for assistance to get their less able volunteers up to the first floor meeting rooms.  Herefordshire Voluntary Organisations Support Service (HVOSS) coordinate and assist many volunteer groups throughout the county and as with many charitable organisations they struggle to get finance for their projects.

TPG approached Handicare as one of their larger stairlift suppliers and worked with them to complete the project of creating an accessible environment at no cost to HVOSS. They plan to have an official launch and P.R. event as soon as the social distancing rules allow.

Alastair Gibbs MD said” Several of our own staff and staff at Handicare have all pulled together for this very worthwhile cause.”

Published: 29th June 2020

Source: TPG DisableAids

Caretech Support Community Store with Weekend Deliveries

Caretech Support Community Store with Weekend Deliveries

Caretech has been supporting their local Southend Community Stores during the pandemic by supplying weekend deliveries and installation to the community, whilst NHS staff have been on lockdown.
They were very quick responding to the pandemic threat and had home working set up within days, with no disruption to service.
Caretech then started to look at other areas to branch into, including relaunching their “hygiene control” division where they give clinical validation of clients cleaning regimes with evidence based testing.
Systems have been reviewed and enhanced to ease administration processes. Engineers have all completed ROSPA “protecting vulnerable adults” courses, to give added confidence to their clients.
Caretech UK Ltd continue to monitor areas where they can improve their services whilst the pandemic is still prevalent. They recently updated their vehicle livery to show their support for the NHS.

Published: 29th June 2020

Source: Caretech UK Ltd

Medical Supplies firm ups Output for NHS Nightingale Hospital

Medical Supplies firm ups Output for NHS Nightingale Hospital
Production workers from Mangar Health in Presteigne have made equipment for the new NHS Nightingale hospital in London as they respond to the coronavirus outbreak.

A MANUFACTURER of medical equipment responded rapidly to a call from the new NHS Nightingale field hospital in London, used to treat patients with coronavirus.

Mangar Health, based in Presteigne on Herefordshire’s border with Wales was asked to supply emergency lifting cushions to frontline NHS staff, including those stationed at the new hospital in London.

Live coronavirus updates for Herefordshire

The company’s lifting cushion is used by ambulance trusts across the UK and is a key piece of equipment used by paramedics when moving people who have fallen.

CEO Simon Claridge said: “The production team has been working extra weekend shifts to get the equipment produced and distributed to ambulance workers.

“We are extremely grateful to our committed and skilled staff who have enthusiastically given up their free time to get equipment dispatched quickly.

“Now more than ever before it’s vital that the healthcare community uses innovative new initiatives to reduce hospital admissions, ambulance calls outs and promote social distancing.

“The right equipment and post fall management strategies are proven to support these aims and we are seeing key decision makers across the sector recognise our proposition as a sustainable, long term solution during these challenging times.”

Published: 29th June 2020

Source: Mangar Health

Page URL:

DM Orthotics Assisted Volunteer Organisation Cornwall Scrubs in the Production of Scrubs for those on the Medical Frontline

DM Orthotics Assisted Volunteer Organisation Cornwall Scrubs in the Production of Scrubs for those on the Medical Frontline
DM Orthotics have Joined in Efforts to Battle COVID-19, Assisting Volunteer Organisation Cornwall Scrubs in the Production of Scrubs for those on the Medical Frontline.

DM Orthotics has remained operational throughout the current coronavirus pandemic. The business, which has just celebrated its fifteenth birthday and employs 55 staff, manufactures bespoke and ready-made orthoses to help manage the physical effects of neuro-muscular conditions like Ehlers-Danlos Syndromes, Dropfoot, Scoliosis, Cerebral Palsy, Stroke and Multiple Sclerosis.

When newly-formed Cornwall Scrubs, led by Annie Lucas, asked DM Orthotics for assistance in making scrubs for those on the medical frontline, the response from employees in volunteering was immediate. Ninety sets of scrubs have now been sewn, cutting is ongoing for 515 items and Chief Executive Officer Dan Severn is personally delivering completed sets to volunteers across Cornwall.

“Our highly-skilled staff have been helping cut and sew the scrubs, using the facilities we’ve got in our factory. I’m tremendously proud of what they’re achieving and the contribution they’ve been making to the fantastic Cornwall Scrubs initiative. It really is a pleasure and a privilege to play a small part in such an excellent project.”

Dan Severn, Chief Executive Officer, DM Orthotics

Acknowledging DM Orthotics’ assistance on Facebook, Cornwall Scrubs said: “Thank you to the wonderful team at DM Orthotics who have worked their magic with their amazing cutting machine. Pattern cutting in bulk saves so much time for our sewing volunteers which means we can complete requests faster.”

Stringent health and safety precautions were introduced in the DM Orthotics factory at the start of the lockdown period to ensure the company could continue meeting worldwide demand for its comprehensive range of products – including burns pressure orthoses for the UK market. Our specialist clinicians are also available for phone or video appointments.

Published: 29th June 2020

Source: DM Orthotics

Page URL:

‘NHS’ Passenger Plane brings PPE from China

‘NHS’ Passenger Plane brings PPE from China
The plane, with its NHS livery, landed at Bournemouth Airport earlier (Source: BBC)

A passenger plane bearing the logo “Thank you NHS” has landed in the UK with a cargo of surgical gowns from China.

The Airbus 340, with boxes strapped into every seat, arrived earlier at Bournemouth Airport.

NHS supplier Crest Medical said it was using passenger jets as well as cargo planes in order to “ramp up” imports of protective personal equipment (PPE).

The firm said it had more than doubled its PPE supplies since January.

Director David Lawrence said the coronavirus outbreak had increased the need for “critical PPE” in hospitals.

He said: “It’s the number of glove changes, the number of gown changes and the number of people using them.”

Boxes of surgical gowns were strapped into every seat. (Source: BBC)

The Warrington-based firm is planning at least five more flights using passenger jets supplied by European Aviation.

The Bournemouth company arranged for the plane to be specially painted with the NHS message.

Chairman Paul Stoddart said: “We had four of these aircraft in passenger configuration but perfectly ready to go with crews etc.

“Although I hear plenty of criticism around about the government being slow… I can tell you first-hand it’s been a magnificent effort and ministers have been available day and night.”

Crest Medical said the 120,000 newly-manufactured surgical suits were unloaded quickly and moved to an NHS warehouse.

A second flight, bringing 10,000 boxes of gloves from Malaysia, is due to arrive on Thursday.

Updates from Crest Medical via Twitter:

Click Here to visit Crest Medical on Twitter

Published: 27th June 2020

Source: BBC Dorset, @CrestMedicalLTD via Twitter

Page URL:

Precision Rehab Helps Noah to Join in with Classroom Activities

Precision Rehab Helps Noah to Join in with Classroom Activities

Five-year-old Noah Hyndman from Gosport is the proud owner of a new Paravan PR25 powerchair from Precision Rehab.  Last year, Noah was diagnosed with Limb Girdle Muscular Dystrophy, a very rare form of Dystrophy which took 3 years to finally diagnose and means Noah is unable to move independently as his mother Sarah explains:

“Until just before his fourth birthday, Noah could walk and stand independently but this was increasingly putting more strain on his body which would take up a lot of his energy.  However, cognitively, Noah is like any other five-year-old and loves playing with his brother, sister and friends including going for family walks with our dog and since starting school he has wanted to join in more than ever.  This is why we attended the Kidz South event last year to see what products could help make this dream a reality”.

When Noah started primary school, Sarah was told he would have to be hoisted as staff would not lift him from his chair to the floor.  Bearing in mind much of the class time in Reception year is spent on the floor Sarah was determined to try and find a powerchair which would enable Noah to take part in class activities without having to be hoisted.

“I was convinced there had to be something out there and as soon as I saw the PR25 and spoke to Matt, I knew we had found the answer for Noah!  Matt and his colleagues were so passionate and took the time to explain all about the chair, how it could be adapted for Noah and also listened to Noah’s requirements to ensure the PR25 would be the best solution. I spoke to several other companies at the show but none of them shared Matt’s passion and we also loved the fact Precision Rehab is a family business with family values and a belief that the chair should fit the person as opposed to the person fitting the chair.” continued Sarah.

Noah has now had his PR25 for three months and is getting used to all the unique functions two of which have changed Noah’s life as Sarah explains: “Thanks to the PR25’s multi-function seat positioning, Noah can now reach things that would otherwise be inaccessible and lower the seat to ground level so he can transition from the chair to the floor on his own and fully engage with his classmates at school, he can still drive the chair with the seat either raised or at floor level which is amazing.  Noah also finds his PR25 very easy to manoeuvre and loves the speed of the PR25 as he can now keep up with his friends in the playground and feel like one of them which is all he and the rest of the family wanted. I can’t thank Matt and the team at Precision Rehab enough for all their hard work and the difference they have made to not just to Noah but to our family!”

The PR25 features some of the technology found on the Paravan PR40 and uses its automatic stabilizer wheels to enable the seat system to be powered from a normal seat height to floor position. This function allows children to access the chair from ground level enabling interaction with their peers, it is also suitable for small adults.  With a base width of just 64cm and choice of two additional functions Tilt in space and seat lift, the PR25 is easy to manoeuvre, fitted with modern R-net controls.

For more information on the full range of powerchairs available from Precision Rehab or if you would like technical support with your existing powerchair call 01256 300111, email: or visit

Published: 25th June 2020

Staying Alert and Safe (Social Distancing) After 4 July

Staying Alert and Safe (Social Distancing) After 4 July

Everyone’s actions have helped to reduce the transmission of coronavirus in our communities. Fatalities and infection rates continue to fall.

The government has set out its plan to return life to as near normal as we can, for as many people as we can, as quickly and fairly as possible in order to safeguard livelihoods, but in a way that continues to protect our communities and our NHS. The most important thing we can continue to do is to stay alert, control the virus, and, in doing so, save lives.

This guidance explains the measures that will help you to stay alert and stay as safe as possible as we continue to respond to the challenges of coronavirus. It applies from 4 July – until then, the existing restrictions will remain in place. This guidance covers England only. People in ScotlandWales and Northern Ireland should follow the specific rules in those parts of the UK.

On 19 June, the UK CMOs changed the COVID-19 alert level from level four to level three following a recommendation by the Joint Biosecurity Centre. This means that the virus is considered to be in general circulation but transmission is no longer high or rising exponentially. As a result, the UK Government has decided to continue to ease restrictions in a manner that is safe, cautious and consistent with our plan.

As of 4 July, this will mean:

  • you can meet in groups of up to two households (your support bubble counts as one household) in any location – public or private, indoors or outdoors. You do not always have to meet with the same household – you can meet with different households at different times. However, it remains the case – even inside someone’s home – that you should socially distance from anyone not in your household or bubble. This change also does not affect the support you receive from your carers
  • when you are outside you can continue to meet in groups of up to six people from different households, following social distancing guidelines
  • those who have been able to form a support bubble (i.e. those in single adult households) can continue to have close contact as if they live with the other people in the bubble, but you should not change who you have formed a support bubble with
  • additional businesses and venues, including restaurants, pubs, cinemas, visitor attractions, hotels, and campsites will be able to open – but we will continue to keep closed certain premises where the risks of transmission may be higher
  • other public places, such as libraries, community centres, places of worship, outdoor playgrounds and outdoor gyms will be able to open
  • you can stay overnight away from your home with your own household or support bubble, or with members of one other household (where you need to keep social distancing)
  • it will be against the law to gather in groups larger than 30 people, except for a limited set of circumstances to be set out in law and unless all members of the group are exclusively from two households. Police will have the power to break up groups larger than 30, apart from these exceptions

Moving forward, from 4 July, people will be trusted to continue acting responsibly by following this and related guidance, subject to an upper legal limit on gatherings (as described above). The overwhelming majority of the British public have complied with the regulations, and the wider guidance on how to keep themselves and their friends and family as safe as possible. Taking this into account, we trust people to continue acting responsibly, and to follow the guidance on what they should and should not do.

These changes will reopen much of society and the economy, but it is essential that everyone in the country goes about their lives in a manner which reduces the risk of transmission, whether they are at work, leisure, or using public services. When you leave your home, you should follow the guidelines on staying safe outside your home. You should continue to avoid close contact and remain socially distant from anyone you do not live with or who is not in your support bubble – even inside other people’s homes.

You should wash your hands regularly. This will help to protect you and anyone you come into contact with and is critical to keeping everyone safe.

You can find answers to the most frequently asked questions about what you should and should not do during the coronavirus outbreak on our FAQs page.

1. Protecting different groups of people

This guidance is for the general public who are fit and well. There is separate, specific guidance on isolation for households with a possible coronavirus infection.

Some people, including those aged 70 and over, those with certain underlying conditions and pregnant women, are clinically vulnerable, meaning they may be at higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus. As we continue to ease restrictions, this group should continue to take particular care to minimise contact with others outside their household. Never visit a clinically vulnerable person if you think you have coronavirus symptoms, however mild. Never visit a clinically vulnerable person if you have been advised to isolate by NHS Test and Trace because you have been in contact with a case. More detail is set out in section 7 of this guidance, below.

2. Meeting family and friends

We know that it has been difficult for people to be cut off from their family and friends in recent months. That is why we have enabled people to see them more as we start to open up more of society and the economy. Guidance on how to see your friends and family safely can be found here.

To avoid risks of transmission and stay as safe as possible, you should always maintain social distancing with people you do not live with – indoors and outdoors. You should only have close social contact with others if you are in a support bubble with them. You should:

  • only gather indoors with members of up to two households (your support bubble counts as one household) – this includes when dining out or going to the pub
  • only gather outdoors in a group of more than six people from different households or in larger groups if everyone is from up to two households only
  • only gather in slightly larger groups of up to 30 for major life events, such as weddings
  • only gather in groups of more than 30 for specific set of circumstances that will be set out in law
  • only visit businesses and venues in groups of up to two households (your support bubble counts as one household) or with a group of six people from different households if outdoors
  • not interact socially with anyone outside the group you are attending these places with even if you see other people you know, for example, in a restaurant, community centre or place of worship
  • try to limit the number of people you see, especially over short periods of time, to keep you and them safe, and save lives – the more people you have interactions with, the more chances we give the virus to spread
  • not hold or attend celebrations (such as parties) where it is difficult to maintain social distancing when gathering in the group sizes advised
  • only stay overnight away from your home in groups of up to two households (your support bubble counts as one household)
  • when asked, provide your contact details to a business so that you can be contacted as needed by the NHS Test and Trace programme

If you or someone in your household or support bubble are showing coronavirus symptoms, everyone in your household or support bubble should stay home. If you or a member of your support bubble is contacted as part of the test and trace programme, the individual contacted should stay at home. If the individual becomes symptomatic, everyone in the support bubble should then isolate.

By following this guidance, you are helping to protect yourself, your family, the NHS and your community.

Further guidance on the mental health and wellbeing aspects of coronavirus (COVID-19) has been issued.

3. Returning to school

The government is committed to doing everything possible to allow all children to go back to school safely, to support their wellbeing and education and help working parents. The government’s plan is for all students to return to school in September and we will publish further guidance for education settings on this.

Primary schools should now be open for Reception, Year 1, and Year 6 pupils and if schools have capacity they can welcome more children back, in group sizes of no more than 15, before the summer holidays. Schools and colleges should provide some face-to-face support for Year 10 and Year 12 pupils. Early years (aged 0-5) childcare should also be open to children. You can find out more about the government’s approach to education and how schools are preparing.

School places of all age groups remain available to the children of critical workers and for vulnerable children and young people.

4. Businesses and venues

As of 4 July, many of the businesses and venues that were previously required to stay closed to the public will be able to reopen. All businesses and venues should follow COVID-19 Secure guidelines to protect customers, visitors and workers.

For the time being, certain businesses and venues will still be required by law to stay closed to the public. From 4 July, these closed businesses and venues will include:

  • nightclubs
  • casinos
  • bowling alleys and indoor skating rinks
  • indoor play areas including soft-play
  • spas
  • nail bars, beauty salons and tanning salons
  • massage, tattoo and piercing parlours
  • indoor fitness and dance studios, and indoor gyms and sports venues/facilities
  • swimming pools and water parks
  • exhibition or conference centres – where they are to be used for exhibitions or conferences

Other businesses will be able to open and their employees should travel to work, where they cannot work from home.

5. Visiting public places

You can spend time outdoors, including for exercise, as often as you wish. At all times, you should follow the guidance on group sizes and the guidance on staying safe outside your home.

If you can, you should avoid using public transport, and aim to walk, cycle, or drive instead. It is not possible to social distance during car journeys and transmission of coronavirus can definitely occur in this context. So avoid travelling with someone from outside your household or, your support bubble unless you can practise social distancing. If you need to use public transport to complete your journey you should follow the guidelines in place, and must wear a face covering.

You should plan ahead to ensure that, where you are visiting places like National Parks, beaches or other visitor attractions, you have checked that they are open and appropriately prepared for visitors. It is important to avoid large crowds where it may not be possible to socially distance.

When travelling to outdoor spaces, it is important that people respect the rules in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and do not travel to different parts of the UK where their intended activities there would be prohibited by legislation passed by the relevant devolved administration.

6. Going to work

With the exception of the organisations listed in this guidance on closing businesses and venues, the government has not required any other businesses to close to the public – it is important for business to carry on.

People who can work from home should continue to do so. Employers should decide, in consultation with their employees, whether it is viable for them to continue working from home. Where it is decided that workers should come into their place of work then this will need to be reflected in the risk assessment and actions taken to manage the risks of transmission in line with this guidance.

All workers who cannot work from home should travel to work if their workplace is open. Workplaces should be set up to meet the new COVID-19 Secure guidelines before operating. These will keep you as safe as possible, while allowing as many people as possible to resume their livelihoods. In particular, workplaces should ensure employees can socially distance from each other, or have implemented robust mitigation measures where distancing is not possible, and wash their hands regularly. Businesses should maintain 2m distancing wherever possible.

At all times, workers should follow the guidance on self-isolation if they or anyone in their household (or support bubble), shows coronavirus symptoms. You should not go into work if you are showing symptoms, or if you or any of your household (or support bubble) are self-isolating. This is consistent with advice from the Chief Medical Officer.

There is specific guidance in relation to work carried out in people’s homes – for example by tradespeople carrying out repairs and maintenance, cleaners, or those providing paid-for childcare in a child’s home.

7. Clinically vulnerable people

If you have any of the following health conditions, you may be clinically vulnerable, meaning you could be at higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus. Although you can meet people outdoors and, from 4 July, indoors, you should be especially careful and be diligent about social distancing and hand hygiene.

Clinically vulnerable people are those who are:

  • aged 70 or older (regardless of medical conditions)
  • under 70 with an underlying health condition listed below (that is, anyone instructed to get a flu jab each year on medical grounds):
  • chronic (long-term) mild to moderate respiratory diseases, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema or bronchitis
  • chronic heart disease, such as heart failure
  • chronic kidney disease
  • chronic liver disease, such as hepatitis
  • chronic neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), or cerebral palsy
  • diabetes
  • a weakened immune system as the result of certain conditions or medicines they are taking (such as steroid tablets)
  • being seriously overweight (a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or above)
  • pregnant women

There is a further group of people who are defined, also on medical grounds, as clinically extremely vulnerable to coronavirus – that is, people with specific serious health conditions – and who have been advised to ‘shield’. We are relaxing advice to those shielding in two stages – as long as the incidence rate in the community remains low:

From 6 July:

  • those shielding can spend time outdoors in a group of up to 6 people (including those outside of their household). Extra care should be taken to minimise contact with others by maintaining social distancing. This can be in a public outdoor space, or in a private garden or uncovered yard or terrace
  • those shielding no longer need to observe social distancing with other members of their household
  • those who are shielding will be able to create a ‘support bubble’ with one other household, as long as one of the households in the bubble is a single adult household (either an adult living alone or with dependent children under 18). All those in a support bubble can spend time together inside each others’ homes, including overnight, without needing to maintain social distancing. This follows the same rules on support bubbles that apply to the wider population now

From 1 August advice for clinically extremely vulnerable people will move in line with advice to those who are clinically vulnerable. In practice, this means staying at home as much as possible, and if people do go out, taking particular care to minimise contact with others outside their household (unless you are in a support bubble) and robustly practising good, frequent hand washing.

The relaxation of the shielding guidance will mean people who are clinically extremely vulnerable will be advised they can go to work or to the shops, as long as they are able to maintain social distancing as much as possible and their workplace is COVID-19 Secure.

Support for those shielding will continue to the end of July so that people can plan for these changes.

8. Communicating with the public

The government will continue to keep the public informed of the impacts of coronavirus on the UK, and the law and guidance that is in place to protect the public.

The measures set out will be kept under constant review and we will seek to open additional businesses once we can be assured these will be able to meet COVID-19 Secure guidelines. If people begin to act recklessly, which could impact on the transmission of coronavirus in our communities, further restrictions will have to be implemented again.


Warning Issued Over KN95 Facemasks

Warning Issued Over KN95 Facemasks

Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI)

CTSI is a training and membership organisation that has represented the interests of the Trading Standards profession since 1881 nationally and internationally. We aim to raise the profile of the profession while working towards fairer, better informed and safer consumer and business communities.

CTSI’s members are engaged in delivering frontline trading standards services in local authorities and in businesses.

Published: 17th June 2020

Use of Face Masks Designated KN95

Use of Face Masks Designated KN95

Health and Safety Executive – Safety Alert

Department Name: EPD – PPE Team
Bulletin No: STSU1 – 2020
Issue Date: June 2020
Target Audience: All industry
Key Issues: Quality of KN95 face masks and lack of compliance with European standards

A substantial number of face masks, claiming to be of KN95 standards, provide an inadequate level of protection and are likely to be poor
quality products accompanied by fake or fraudulent paperwork. These face masks may also be known as filtering facepiece respirators.

KN95 face mask
KN95 face mask
Image Source: HSE Use of face masks designated KN95

KN95 is a performance rating under the Chinese standard GB2626:2006, the requirements of which are broadly the same as the European
standard BSEN149:2001+A1:2009 for FFP2 facemasks. However, there is no independent certification or assurance of their quality and
products manufactured to KN95 rating are declared as compliant by the manufacturer. 

Personal protective equipment (PPE) cannot be sold or supplied as PPE unless it is CE marked. The only exception is for PPE that is
organised by the UK Government for use by NHS or other healthcare workers where assessments have been undertaken by HSE as the Market
Surveillance Authority.

Action required

KN95 must not be used as PPE at work as their effectiveness cannot be assured.

Masks that are not CE marked and cannot be shown to be compliant must be removed from supply immediately. If these masks have not been
through the necessary safety assessments, their effectiveness in controlling risks to health cannot be assured for anyone buying or using them.
They are unlikely to provide the protection expected or required.

If any are CE marked, suppliers must be able to demonstrate how they know the documentation and CE marking is genuine, supported by
Notified Body documentation showing compliance with the essential health and safety requirements as required by the Personal Protective
Equipment Regulations (EU) 2016/425.

Relevant legal documents
  • Personal Protective Equipment Regulations (EU) 2016/425
  • Personal Protective Equipment (Enforcement) Regulations 2018

Published: 17th June 2020

Source: HSE (Health and Safety Executive)

Page URL:

BHTA Chairman on Reducing Clinical Risk Action Plan

BHTA Chairman on Reducing Clinical Risk Action Plan

BHTA, working with key members companies, has put together an effective and detailed return to work document that seeks to reduce the
clinical risk from COVID19 for both service users and clinical staff supporting them. Initially this work is around NHS Wheelchair Services,
but the excellent good practice is a model for all businesses invloved in close personal contatc with service users.

We feel that this is a vital next step in driving the key levers that will ensure a safe and effective return to working patterns and ensure that
services users and customers can be confident that their provider and supplier are working to reduce the clinical risk involved in these

This is a significant input to the return to work programme and the BHTA is delighted to be once again working very closely with key
providers and suppliers to ensure that best practice is at forefront of what will be the new normal.

Andrew Stevenson

Published: 27th May 2020

New Online Booking System Launches for Popular Theraposture Therapist-led Video Assessments

New Online Booking System Launches for Popular Theraposture Therapist-led Video Assessments

Theraposture, the leading specialist in Adjustable Beds, Chairs, and Care Cots, is experiencing growing demand for its latest OT-led, personalised video assessments and product demonstrations – following the introduction of a new web appointment calendar.

As the pandemic continues, the popularity of ‘Theraposture Covid safe services’ is on the rise. Offering an alternative to home visits, video appointments provide a face-to-face opportunity for the Theraposture Occupational Therapist (OT), Shaun Masters, to assess individual needs, answer questions and see a client’s environment. Home assessment visits are still available if requested and appropriate, however for clients who are shielding or who do not want visitors, the option to choose a video call provides peace of mind.

Shaun Masters, OT, can use a variety of video conferencing options including Zoom, Teams or WhatsApp. Once a booking has been made, he calls the client to discuss their product requirements and to ensure the technology is all set up before the appointment.

Bookings for Theraposture’s new service can be made by telephone or by Theraposture’s new online calendar booking app. Simple to use, visitors simply click on an available date, select preferences and the appointment is booked with the OT. Individual or multiple products can be seen in one appointment with several participants on the same call. This provides a highly efficient method of discussing suitable assistive equipment without travel or physical contact – hence Covid-19 risk free. In one video call, solutions can be discussed will several stakeholders responsible for care which saves times for all involved.

Shaun Masters, OT and Trusted Assessor, is leading the new Theraposture video services and believes working smart is the way forward to achieve faster positive outcomes. Shaun explains: “As an Occupational Therapist I embrace change. Its prescription often enables an individual to maintain or increase their level of independence. The world in which we find ourselves living in at the current time, requires each one of us to change our day-to-day lives. So, by embracing this change, coupled with technology, we can promote optimum health and wellbeing in new and innovative ways.”

Shaun adds: “Theraposture are using technology to complete video-based OT assessments via many different web platforms – this new way of working is quickly transforming our practice. We complete these in a timely manner as they can involve health professionals, carers, clients, and family members. The video assessment enables products to be viewed and demonstrated in a relaxed private environment, with full explanation given on specific features and functions prevalent to different pathologies. In my professional opinion, video assessments are very effective, and I strongly believe they will become normal practice within our continued new way of working.” 

Theraposture video services are supported by its Covid-19 safe working practices which ensure product installations, service calls and home visits, of any kind, are safe for all involved. Technicians have a strict protocol and wear full PPE whilst ensuring clients are shielded during any customer facing interaction. This duty of care is backed-up by a 14-day Suitability Guarantee which allows clients ample time to use their new equipment and ensure they are 100% satisfied. 

Published: 16th June 2020

CTSI and OPSS Webinars for PPE

CTSI and OPSS Webinars for PPE

CTSI, in partnership with the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS), are running a series of 1 1/2 hour webinars for businesses focusing on the identification, classification and the current easements for placing PPE on the market. This training will also be run alongside webinars for businesses that are importing, manufacturing or retailing hand cleansing products.

To book a place onto one of the next CTSI Business Training Webinars please follow the links below:

22 June Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Product Requirements for Importers

22 June 14.00 – 15.30 

Business Training Webinar – Hand Cleansing & Sanitising Product Requirements for Importers

24 June Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Product Requirements for Manufacturers

24 June 14.00 – 15.30

Business Training Webinar – Hand Cleansing & Sanitising Product Requirements for Manufacturers

26 June PPE Product Requirements for Retailers/Distributors

26 June 14.00 – 15.30

Business Training Webinar – Hand Cleansing & Sanitising Product Requirements for Retailers/Distributors

Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI)

CTSI is a training and membership organisation that has represented the interests of the Trading Standards profession since 1881 nationally and internationally. We aim to raise the profile of the profession while working towards fairer, better informed and safer consumer and business communities.

CTSI’s members are engaged in delivering frontline trading standards services in local authorities and in businesses.

BHTA Members Offer Urgent Support to NHS Wheelchair Service Customers

BHTA Members Offer Urgent Support to NHS Wheelchair Service Customers

BHTA have brought together some of the major wheelchair service providers to ensure that, while the NHS is under extreme pressure,
the needs of wheelchair users are fully supported.

If you are a wheelchair service customer and having difficulties obtaining service and maintenance support for your product, BHTA
members will bring their combined resources together to respond urgently and help.

Many of the challenges wheelchair services and wheelchair users are experiencing are replicated across the country. Where there may
be hot spots or shortfalls in services the group will look to see how they can support any specific areas that need their assistance.

The BHTA group will be liaising with other Wheelchair Groups and regional in-house services to try to mitigate wheelchair user’s
problems with ongoing assessments, deliveries, service and maintenance.

The BHTA group are keen to support users that are just being issued with products for hospital discharge and for others, whose
conditions are changing and need to be assessed as part of their ongoing clinical needs.

If you require assistance, please click on the link below and scroll over the map to find the nearest provider to you. Please do not
hesitate to contact the nearest one, who may appear to be some distance from you, as many BHTA providers cover wide areas for
wheelchair services.

Retailers who may be able to assist are shown in light green – their services will not be free of charge unless they are able to provide warranty cover – check when contacting them”

Find your nearest provider by Clicking Here

Don’t Forget to Return Your On-Loan Community Equipment – Help the NHS and Social Services

Don’t Forget to Return Your On-Loan Community Equipment – Help the NHS and Social Services

Community Bed and Equipment Collections Request

The provision of community equipment is a vital part of the process that allows patients to be discharged from hospital to be cared for
safely in their own homes. Community Equipment Providers are continuing to support the NHS and Social Services at this difficult time,
using infection control procedures and enhanced PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) to protect those whose homes they visit as well
as their employees.

All Providers need your assistance to help facilitate more NHS patient discharges and free up more vital bed spaces. We are actively
requesting those who no longer need loaned beds and Equipment to contact their equipment provider so that they can collect and
re-cycle them. If you have a bed, or equipment, in your home that was supplied by the Community Equipment Service that you no
longer need, please call your local Equipment Provider and they will arrange the safe collection and urgent recycling, so that the
equipment may be used to help others now in need.

Contact details will be found on any documentation that has been left with you, or on a label on the equipment. If you do not have
access to this please search on your local council website for “how to return equipment” or for “Occupational therapy”.

You can find your local council via the following link:

Published: 17th April 2020

Shops in England selling non-essential goods will be able to reopen from Monday 15 June 2020,

Shops in England selling non-essential goods will be able to reopen from Monday 15 June 2020,

High street retailers and department stores, including book shops, electronics retailers, tailors, auction houses, photography studios, indoor markets, and shops selling clothes, shoes and toys, will be allowed to open their doors again provided they follow the COVID-19 secure guidelines set out by the government in May.

Retailers will need to take certain steps to protect customers and staff, including limiting the number of customers allowed inside at one time, placing protective coverings on large items such as sofas which may be touched by passing shoppers, and frequently checking and cleaning objects and surfaces.

Employers should also display a notice visibly in their shop windows or outside their store to show their employees, customers and other visitors that they have followed this guidance.

For further information follow the link below

Moboa Launch New Cabins for Infection Prevention

Moboa Launch New Cabins for Infection Prevention

BHTA member, Moboa, have introduced three new cabins that offer body and hand disinfection, temperature measurement and face recognition.

When the person enters the cabin, there is the mist which is sprayed which works on the entire surface of the person – it’s hypoallergenic, does not irritate the face and does not damage to clothes. The mist is a natural biocide that occurs in the human immune system, so it is entirely harmless. The fluid used in the cabins is entirely natural and has the necessary certificates confirming the high efficiency to eliminate bacteria, fungi and viruses. One disinfection process takes 5-15 seconds.

Their cabins can increase the safety of patients, staff and the public, at the same time, and aims to reduce the spread of viruses. The cabin and the disinfection fluids have all the necessary EU certificates.

To see how their product works, please click the following link:

NHS Nightingale Hospital Yorkshire and the Humber to Provide Clinical Imaging Services for Patients in the Region

NHS Nightingale Hospital Yorkshire and the Humber to Provide Clinical Imaging Services for Patients in the Region

The NHS Nightingale Hospital Yorkshire and the Humber will begin offering clinical CT scans to some patients from across the region from 4 June, 2020.

The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust will be the first trusts to use the facility and will provide appointments seven days a week.

NHS Nightingale Hospital Yorkshire and the Humber was set up as part of the region’s Covid-19 response. On stand-by since its launch, the hospital is equipped with clinical imaging equipment, which means it can also support the region in its recovery phase.  From 4 June 2020, the hospital will provide outpatient appointments for patients with radiology referrals.

The temporary hospital is fully equipped and able to provide the service for patients who are well and mobile (known as ‘ambulatory patients’). The service will provide a combination of diagnostic scans and surveillance scans, which are used to monitor patients with a prior diagnosis of a medical condition.

Steve Russell, Chief Executive of NHS Nightingale Hospital Yorkshire and the Humber and Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust, said: “A number of NHS services have been significantly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic as hospitals have had to prioritise the care of patients with the virus.

“The measures taken to introduce social distancing and manage hospital demand have meant that we’ve not yet needed to use the NHS Nightingale Hospital for its original intended purpose. We’ve therefore taken the decision to utilise the equipment and begin offering CT scans at the facility so that we can get patients seen quickly.”

Image Source:

As yet, the NHS Nightingale Hospital has not been needed to care for patients with Covid-19 and this will be the first time the hospital has been used to provide patient care.

Every patient who attends the facility will be screened before their appointment to check that they don’t have the symptoms of Covid-19 and appointments will only be offered to those who are neither isolating, nor shielding.

Patients with additional needs, such as those who require interpreting services or patient transport, will continue to be seen at their local hospital to guarantee their specific needs can be met.

Published: 2nd June 2020

Source: NHS Harrogate and District

Page URL:

Crest Medical Continue to Deliver Vital PPE to the NHS

Crest Medical Continue to Deliver Vital PPE to the NHS

Guinness Asset Management Invests £2.5 Million in Suntech UK, the Company Behind the Award Winning eFOLDI Mobility Scooter

Guinness Asset Management Invests £2.5 Million in Suntech UK, the Company Behind the Award Winning eFOLDI Mobility Scooter

Guinness Asset Management (“Guinness”) has invested in Suntech UK (trading as “eFOLDi”). eFOLDi is a design, inventions and manufacturing company specialising in innovative and lightweight mobility devices created to transform lives. Winner of The British Invention of the Year Award, the Surrey based business has been built off the back of the industry-changing eFOLDi Folding Mobility Scooter (the lightest in it’s class) leading to two years of rapid sales growth. There are plans to launch an even lighter model this year. It is eFOLDi’s mission to build an iconic brand for people with reduced mobility symbolising freedom, friendship and fun! As part of the investment, Guinness Fund Manager, Ashley Abrahams, will join the board of directors alongside experienced Non-Exec Chairman, Kevin Ronaldson, who has over 40 years’ experience advising growing companies.

eFOLDi is led by its ambitious and driven CEO, Sumi Wang, who helped design the original folding mobility scooter with her father, Jianmin Wang. Together, they have designed a product that is the best in class for lightweight mobility scooters. They serve the rapidly expanding market of people with reduced mobility, whether through age or illness, who wish to maintain as much independence and flexibility as possible. The eFOLDi folds to the size of a suitcase, ideal for transport and storage, and provides customers of all ages with a new lease of life.

Ashley Abrahams, Fund Manager at Guinness, said: “Guinness is delighted to be supporting Sumi Wang and her team during this exciting time of growth, expansion, and new product development. eFOLDi has a unique proposition that can make a real improvement to customers’ lives with innovation at the core. Sumi and her team have been very successful in driving the company forward and we very much look forward to working with them as they embark on
the next stage of growth.”

Sumi Wang, CEO of eFOLDi, said: “We are extremely pleased to welcome Guinness onboard our exciting eFOLDi journey. Guinness is one of very few investors who has combined expertises in hardware manufacturing and personal mobility industries, and therefore will add tremendous value in the next stage of eFOLDi success. Personally I very much look forward to working with Ashley and the wider Guinness team – Together, we will take eFOLDi to a new horizon and beyond.”

Glen Waters, Head of Raise at PWC who advised on the investment, said: “We are pleased to have been able to support eFOLDi and Sumi Wang throughout this process. It is fantastic to see Guinness partner with the eFOLDi management team to support the next stage of the company’s development. We look forward to seeing the business realise its growth ambitions with Guinness’ support.”

Guinness was supported by Taylor Vinters LLP, Wilson Partners, and Glenesk Group.

eFOLDi was advised by PWC’s specialist SME Raise Team, supported by DWF LLP.

Published: 27th May 2020

Return to Workplace Advice – Webinar

Return to Workplace Advice – Webinar


Friday 22 May 2020


Dr Simon Joyston-Bechal, Turnstone Law


There are many areas to consider in the workplace and this presentation covers
the government guidance’s as well as the liabilities that may be imposed upon
us as we return with many areas to consider.

The key points of this Webinar are:

Health & Safety Law Conundrums during the Pandemic

  • Could we be prosecuted for COVID-19 exposures?
  • Managing difficult decisions relating to COVID-19
  • Can we keep operating if we are struggling with social distancing?
  • Working from home – how far do our duties extend?
  • Returning to work
  • Reporting under RIDDOR
  • Q&A

About the speaker:

Dr Simon Joyston-Bechal

Dr Simon Joyston-Bechal is widely regarded as one of the UK’s leading health
and safety lawyers. He is a director at Turnstone Law and previously qualified
as a doctor, putting him in a unique position to deal with technical, safety and
health-related legal issues. In addition to defending health and safety enforcement,
he focuses on training senior management and advising organisations on legal
preventive measures to reduce the likelihood of prosecution in the event of an incident.

Published: 22nd May 2020

BHTA Members Help the Call for PPE (Personal Protective Equipment)

BHTA Members Help the Call for PPE (Personal Protective Equipment)

BHTA members have been supporting the NHS and healthcare Services with supplies of PPE.

If you are experiencing shortages of equipment please contact our members to see if they can help you.

Published: 6th May 2020

Goody Bags from Healthcare Service (HCSUK)

Goody Bags from Healthcare Service (HCSUK)

BHTA member Jo Bonser of Health Care Services (HCSUK) decided to cheer up some Care Home Managers with some goody bags during Covid-19.

The goody bags included some branded merchandise, nail kits and wax melts. Sometimes the small thing in life can make a big difference to front line staff who are under extreme pressure at the moment.

Well done Jo!

Published: 5th May 2020

Specialist Rotoflex Turning Beds Deliver Critical Home Independence with Reduced Risk During COVID-19 Crisis

Specialist Rotoflex Turning Beds Deliver Critical Home Independence with Reduced Risk During COVID-19 Crisis
Theraposture employees dressed in PPE (Personal Protective Equipment).

Theraposture, a respected supplier of specialist adjustable beds, chairs and care cots, continues to provide vital support to vulnerable individuals during the COVID-19 outbreak through its award-winning Rotoflex bed and enhanced services.

As suppliers of medical devices and assistive technology, Theraposture provides a vital and essential service and is able to continue operating safely. This market leading expert is recognised as an essential supplier and has the backing of the NHS, the BHTA and the major charities it works with.

The equipment that Theraposture provides is vital for ensuring customers remain independent at home and avoid residential care settings. For example, by using the Rotoflex Bed it is likely that less external help is needed for bed transfers and therefore the risks of spreading the Coronavirus are massively reduced.

The patented Rotoflex is a specialist bed that will safely and consistently help users get into bed, get out of bed and to stand up without the need of hoisting, stand aids or carers. The Rotoflex takes the user from a seated position to a lying position at the touch of a button. Equally the bed also helps users from a lying position to a seated position from where they can be safely helped to their feet. Vertical lift technology can then raise users, so they achieve a safer standing transfer intentionally without being tipped forward. This proven and trusted product provides independence, and as a result reduces the need for carer givers.

Liam Braddell, Theraposture Sales Director comments: “Our mission is always to provide independence, care and
comfort at home through quality and proven adjustable beds, chairs and care cots. This ethos is now more relevant
than even before with social distancing, isolation and shielding to beat the spread of Coronavirus. Our solutions are
designed to help individuals stay at home safely and with peace of mind ­– with the ability to reduce or eliminate care
costs. With the increased risk of infection between clients and carers, the need for products that facilitate mobility at
home is imperative.”

Theraposture has introduced enhanced COVID-19 focused protocols and services so that its assistive products are
still available to individuals who are at increased risk because of the need for carers coming into their homes.
Many users of Theraposture products live with Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson’s. These progressive debilitating
conditions can make daily tasks like beds transfers difficult and sometimes dangerous. With a solution such as the
Rotoflex bed, the immediate and future needs and risks are fully met. This means that users could avoid residential
care, hospital stays and the need for care packages. In addition, without appropriate and effective assistive
equipment in the home, the risk of injury from falls is increased which can lead to undue pressure on the NHS.
This furthers the risk of infection from COVID-19 hence Theraposture is continuing to provide products and
equipment servicing if requested and where appropriate.

Theraposture’s key workers are operating with utmost caution and protection as per the government’s latest
guidance which is continually reviewed. New services have been introduced such as group video client
assessments which support end users and Occupational Therapists so duty of care can be maintained.

Liam concludes: “We continue to receive high numbers of calls from existing and potential new customers seeking
solutions for increased safety at home. Our Rotoflex bed is an exemplary product that delivers a proven alternative
to domiciliary care and relocation to residential or nursing care. Add to this our comprehensive OT-led advice and
partnership with Parkinson’s UK, we are helping to support the NHS and reduce unprecedented pressures on social care.”

Published: 17th April 2020

CMA Approach to Business Cooperation in Response to COVID-19

CMA Approach to Business Cooperation in Response to COVID-19

The focus of the CMA (Competition & Markets Authority) in the next few months will be to protect UK consumers from the adverse consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic to the greatest extent possible.

The CMA is conscious of concerns that competition law enforcement could impede necessary cooperation between businesses to deal with the current crisis and ensure security of supplies of essential products and services.1

Competition typically benefits consumers by spurring businesses to offer lower prices, better service and higher quality. Competition law exists to make sure that businesses do not limit competition to the detriment of consumers. For example, there is a prohibition in competition law on agreements and arrangements between businesses that restrict competition.2This prohibits businesses from colluding or cooperating to limit competition – for example by agreeing to increase prices or to divide up markets or customers amongst themselves.

Throughout the UK, businesses are assisting in national and local efforts to tackle the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, from providing essential goods and services to consumers, to ensuring key workers can carry out their important tasks in getting the country through this crisis.

The CMA understands that this may involve coordination between competing businesses. It wants to provide reassurance that, provided that any such coordination is undertaken solely to address concerns arising from the current crisis and does not go further or last longer than what is necessary, the CMA will not take action against it.3

This guidance sets out:

  • details of the CMA’s approach to the prioritisation of its work; and
  • the CMA’s views on how, in the unprecedented context of the COVID-19 pandemic, it will apply the criteria for exemption from the competition law prohibition on agreements and arrangements restricting competition.4

At the same time, the CMA will not tolerate conduct which opportunistically seeks to exploit the crisis. Therefore, this guidance also explains when the CMA will take enforcement action to prevent consumer detriment.

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve. So too may the issues faced by businesses as they participate in efforts to mitigate the effects of the pandemic, and also the types of exploitative behaviour that cause consumer detriment. The CMA will continue to monitor the current situation and may update this guidance as and when it becomes necessary to do so in order to provide maximum clarity and certainty for businesses.

This guidance should not be interpreted as applying to any matter other than those relating strictly to, or arising directly out of, the COVID-19 pandemic. The CMA will give notice on its webpage withdrawing this guidance when it considers that it is no longer necessary.

How the CMA will prioritise cases during the COVID-19 outbreak

The CMA’s Annual Plan for 2020 / 2021 is clear that the CMA intends to ‘sharpen [its] focus on what matters to consumers’ so that its ‘interventions deliver impact where it is most needed’. The CMA has also pledged to ‘improve how [it] choose[s] which problems to take on’ with ‘[p]rotecting consumers, including in particular those in vulnerable circumstances’ a key strategic objective for the organisation.

These principles apply equally in a crisis such as the present one: the CMA’s work should be focussed on what matters most to consumers.

The current extraordinary situation may trigger the need for companies to cooperate in order to ensure the supply and fair distribution of scarce products and/or services affected by the crisis to all consumers. Where temporary measures to coordinate action taken by businesses:

  • are appropriate and necessary in order to avoid a shortage, or ensure security, of supply;
  • are clearly in the public interest;
  • contribute to the benefit or wellbeing of consumers;
  • deal with critical issues that arise as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic; and
  • last no longer than is necessary to deal with these critical issues, the CMA will not take enforcement action.

This does not give a ‘free pass’ to businesses to engage in conduct that could lead to harm to consumers in other ways. The CMA will not tolerate unscrupulous businesses exploiting the crisis as a ‘cover’ for non-essential collusion. This could include, for example:

  • businesses exchanging with their competitors commercially sensitive information on future pricing or business strategies, where this is not necessary to meet the needs of the current situation;
  • retailers excluding smaller rivals from any efforts to cooperate or collaborate in order to achieve security of supply, or denying rivals access to supplies or services;
  • a business abusing its dominant position in a market (which might be a dominant position conferred by the particular circumstances of this crisis) to raise prices significantly above normal competitive levels5;
  • collusion between businesses that seeks to mitigate the commercial consequences of a fall in demand by artificially keeping prices high to the detriment of consumers; or
  • coordination between businesses that is wider in scope than what is actually needed to address the critical issue in question (for example, if the coordination extends to the distribution or provision of goods or services that are not affected by the COVID-19 pandemic).

In applying this approach to enforcement during the current crisis, the key factor for the CMA will be the potential for the coordination to cause harm to consumers or to the wider economy. Where the coordination is necessary, for example, to ensure that essential supplies find their way to consumers or that key workers can travel safely to their place of work it is highly unlikely that it would cause harm to consumers. This applies even if the coordination leads to a reduction in the range of products available to consumers, provided that reduction is necessary to avoid supply shortages of the relevant product in the first place.

It is of the utmost importance to ensure that the prices of products or services considered essential to protect the health of consumers in the current situation (for example, face masks and sanitising gel) are not artificially inflated by unscrupulous businesses seeking to take advantage of the current situation by colluding to keep prices high6 or, if they have a dominant position in a market7, by unilaterally exploiting that position.8

Manufacturers can also take steps themselves to help combat ‘price gouging’ or excessive pricing. Manufacturers setting maximum prices at which retailers may sell their products is not unlawful.9 Manufacturers may therefore directly address price gouging by setting maximum prices for the retail of their products.

Our approach to the exemption criteria during the COVID-19 outbreak

The CMA wishes to offer additional information in this guidance to businesses about how the CMA will apply the legal criteria for exemption from the prohibition on agreements and arrangements restrictive of competition10 in the specific circumstances of this crisis.

Under section 9 of the Competition Act 1998 (set out in the Annex to this guidance), an agreement that restricts competition is exempt from the prohibition on agreements and arrangements restricting competition if it meets all the following criteria:

  • it contributes to improving production or distribution, or promoting technical or economic progress (the first criterion);
  • it allows consumers a fair share of the resulting benefit (the second criterion);
  • it does not impose on the undertakings concerned restrictions which are not indispensable to the attainment of those objectives (the third criterion); and
  • it does not afford the undertakings concerned the possibility of eliminating competition in respect of a substantial part of the products or services in question (the fourth criterion).

Agreements are automatically exempt from the prohibition on agreements and arrangements between businesses restricting competition if all these criteria are fulfilled. Businesses need to assess for themselves whether these exemption criteria apply: the CMA does not have the power to make a formal ‘clearance’ decision to that effect.

To assist businesses in more confidently making their own assessment in the specific circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, the CMA offers the following guidance:

  • Cooperation that ensures essential goods and services can be made available to the public or an important sub-set of the public such as key workers or vulnerable consumers will be considered efficiency-enhancing (i.e. meeting the first criterion).
  • If without the cooperation there would have been significant shortages of a product, the cooperation will be likely to give consumers a fair share of the benefits if it avoids or mitigates those shortages (i.e. the second criterion).
  • In determining whether the cooperation is indispensable to achieve the efficiency, the key factor will be whether in the circumstances and limited time available to consider alternatives, the cooperation can reasonably be considered necessary (i.e. the third criterion). A further factor that will be important is the extent to which the cooperation is temporary in nature. Businesses should not restrict competition in any area where such a restriction would be unnecessary for the achievement of the benefits or efficiencies for which the agreement is entered into in the first place.
  • In applying the fourth criterion, the CMA considers that it is important that competition remains wherever possible. For example, if it is necessary to share capacity information there may still be room for competition on price. Similarly, where the scope of a restriction can be limited to particular goods or geographical areas in order to address a particular issue, businesses should make efforts to limit the restriction in this way.

Overall, the types of coordinated actions that, in the exceptional circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • avoid a shortage, or ensure security, of supply;
  • ensure a fair distribution of scarce products;
  • continue essential services; or
  • provide new services such as food delivery to vulnerable consumers, are most likely to be unproblematic from a competition law perspective based on the exemption criteria – provided that they do not go further than what can reasonably be considered necessary.

Additional points

This guidance covers only the approach the CMA intends to adopt to public competition law enforcement during the COVID-19 pandemic. It does not bind the European Commission11 in its application of EU competition law in the UK. The CMA cannot offer protection against private litigation brought by third party litigants for perceived breaches of UK competition law.12 Businesses may wish to seek legal advice as to any potential exposure they might face in this regard.

The CMA hopes that this guidance will answer most questions that businesses and stakeholders might have in respect of the CMA’s competition law enforcement activities during the crisis. However, in certain cases where businesses and their legal advisers remain genuinely uncertain about the legality of the actions they propose to take, and the matter is of critical importance, the CMA will be prepared to offer additional, informal guidance about our enforcement priorities on a case-by-case basis, to the extent that this is possible given current CMA staffing constraints.  

Competition Act 1998, section 9

Exempt agreements

(1) An agreement is exempt from the Chapter I prohibition if it—

(a) contributes to—

(i) improving production or distribution, or

(ii) promoting technical or economic progress, while allowing consumers a fair share of the resulting benefit; and

(b) does not—

(i) impose on the undertakings concerned restrictions which are not indispensable to the attainment of those objectives; or

(ii) afford the undertakings concerned the possibility of eliminating competition in respect of a substantial part of the products in question.

(2) In any proceedings in which it is alleged that the Chapter I prohibition is being or has been infringed by an agreement, any undertaking or association of undertakings claiming the benefit of subsection (1) shall bear the burden of proving that the conditions of that subsection are satisfied.

Read all of our updates about COVID-19, and how the CMA is responding to the ongoing outbreak on our dedicated COVID-19 response page.

© Crown copyright 2020 You may reuse this information (not including logos) free of charge in any format or medium, under the terms of the Open Government Licence.

To view this licence, visit or write to the Information Policy Team, The National Archives, Kew, London TW9 4DU, or email:

  1. See also the CMA’s 19 March 2020 press notice; and the 23 March 2020 joint statement by the European Competition Network on the ‘application of competition law during the Corona crisis’. 
  2. The prohibition is set out in section 2 of the Competition Act 1998 and is known as the ‘Chapter I prohibition’. There is an EU law equivalent, in Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU. 
  3. A joint statement issued by the European Competition Network on the ‘application of competition law during the Corona crisis’, on 23 March 2020, says that ‘necessary and temporary measures put in place in order to avoid a shortage of supply… are unlikely to be problematic, since they would either not amount to a restriction of competition under Article 101 TFEU… or generate efficiencies that would most likely outweigh any such restriction.’ 
  4. Under the UK Competition Act 1998 section 9 and, in so far as it applies, the EU law equivalent in Article 101(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU. The full text of section 9 of the Competition Act 1998 is set out in the Annex to this guidance. Forms of cooperation not discussed in this guidance may still benefit from individual exemption under section 9, provided they meet the criteria specified. Certain agreements may also be block exempted by application of one of the block exemption regulations adopted by the European Commission which continue to be in force in the UK during the Transition Period (as set out in the UK/EU Withdrawal Agreement (i.e., up until and including 31 December 2020)). Other agreements may benefit from exclusion orders issued by the Government under paragraph 7 of Schedule 3 to the Competition Act 1998. This guidance does not apply to such block exempted or excluded agreements. 
  5. Unilateral conduct by a business with a dominant position in a market might be prohibited under the competition law prohibition on the abuse of a dominant position. This is in section 18 of the Competition Act 1998 and is known as the ‘Chapter II prohibition’. There is an EU law equivalent, in Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU. 
  6. In breach of the prohibition on agreements or arrangements between businesses restricting competition. 
  7. Including a dominant position conferred by the current circumstances. 
  8. In breach of the prohibition on abuse of a dominant position. 
  9. Under the EU Vertical Agreements Block Exemption, a supplier can impose maximum prices above which its retailers or distributors may not resell the products, provided that the maximum price does not amount to a fixed or minimum resale price as a result of pressure or incentives and provided the supplier and retailers remain below the market share thresholds in the Block Exemption. 
  10. This exemption is not available in respect of infringements of the Chapter II prohibition. 
  11. As noted above in footnote 1, on 23 March 2020 the European Competition Network issued a joint statement on the ‘application of competition law during the Corona crisis’, which provides guidance for businesses as to the ECN’s approach to cooperation between businesses in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  12. Although UK Courts may take this guidance into account when deciding any corresponding competition law cases. 

Published: 25th March 2020

Source: GOV UK

Page URL:

Guidance for Schools, Colleges and Local Authorities on Maintaining Educational Provision – Key Workers

Guidance for Schools, Colleges and Local Authorities on Maintaining Educational Provision – Key Workers

Government issue guidance to parents whose work is critical to the COVID-19 response include those who work in health and social care and in other key sectors outlined below. Many parents working in these sectors may be able to ensure their child is kept at home. And every child who can be safely cared for at home should be.

Please, therefore, follow these key principles:

  1. If it is at all possible for children to be at home, then they should be.
  2. If a child needs specialist support, is vulnerable or has a parent who is a critical worker, then educational provision will be available for them.
  3. Parents should not rely for childcare upon those who are advised to be in the stringent social distancing category such as grandparents, friends, or family members with underlying conditions.
  4. Parents should also do everything they can to ensure children are not mixing socially in a way which can continue to spread the virus. They should observe the same social distancing principles as adults.
  5. Residential special schools, boarding schools and special settings continue to care for children wherever possible.

If your work is critical to the COVID-19 response, or you work in one of the critical sectors listed below, and you cannot keep your child safe at home then your children will be prioritised for education provision:

For the latest guidance visit:

Published: 20th March 2020

Source: GOV UK

Page URL:

Important Announcement from the British Healthcare Trades Association

Important Announcement from the British Healthcare Trades Association

Due to the current situation in London, the Government and Transport for London advice,
we have taken the decision to close BHTA offices today.

We will do our best to continue providing our services as normal. The BHTA is responding
to a wide range of member requests on all aspects of the current coronavirus crisis.
Please continue to let us know your most pressing concerns, and we will seek to respond.
However, it may be some time before we can get answers from hard-pressed civil servants.

We regret this means we are currently unable to deal with any incoming post and our phone
line is unmanned. We apologise for the inconvenience this may cause. If you have any
issues contacting a member of staff then please email the address instead.

Dr Simon Festing, CEO BHTA

Published: 19th March 2020

BHTA Appeals to Government to Include the Medical Device and Assistive Technologies Sectors as “Key Workers”

BHTA Appeals to Government to Include the Medical Device and Assistive Technologies Sectors as “Key Workers”

In light of the news that school closures have already started, the BHTA has appealed to government to clarify the definition
of “key workers”, and to include the medical device and assistive technology sector. BHTA has today written to DHSC,
MHCLG, NHS England and Local Government to urgently seek greater clarity.

The healthcare industries provide services which will be vital as the NHS comes under ever greater pressure. Beds will need
to be released as quickly as possible and patients returned to their own homes where they can be kept safe and allowed to
live independently. Members of our association are likewise involved in manufacturing key medical products and deliver
services such as decontamination of medical devices.

Some members companies of the Association have identified that up to 40% of their service/production work force would
have difficulty in continuing to attend to work which will then have a severe impact on their ability to continue to deliver
these services to the NHS.

Clarity is also sought over what are deemed essential products and services. Products in this sector range from profiling
beds needed urgently by hospitals, through to stoma and urology devices needed by patients both in hospital and at home,
and to items such as stairlifts, bathlifts, and wheelchairs. It is vital that these continue to be delivered, installed,
decontaminated, and repaired, for the safe care of patients in hospitals and care homes, and the safety of very vulnerable
members of the public in their own homes.

Manufacturers, suppliers and service providers are all putting appropriate measures in place to keep their staff and their
customers safe, but will need assistance, if key staff have had to self-isolate, in determining whether they can resume their
duties. Extension of testing to this sector will help immeasurably in ensuring continuity of supply to the NHS and to vulnerable
people, as will an assurance that they will be able to access protective garments such as masks to enable them to fulfil their duties.

Dr Simon Festing

CEO – British Healthcare Trades Association

Published: 19th March 2020

National Care Force Launched to Fill Gaps in the Workforce

National Care Force Launched to Fill Gaps in the Workforce

A National Care Force has been set up to help social care providers fill staff gaps with health workers and volunteers
during the coronavirus outbreak.

The free online platform, powered by health technology firm Florence, works by allowing volunteers to book shifts
available across the social care sector. Shifts are posted directly by the care providers who have joined.

The National Care Force has been launched in response to vital staff shortages expected to occur due to coronavirus.

With up to 80% of the UK population projected to become infected in the next 12 months – according to a 
Public Health England briefing for NHS officials – extra users and staffing gaps caused by the illness will add even more
strain to care services already stretched before the outbreak.

Last night, the government announced an emergency bill that will allow recently retired NHS staff and social workers to
return to work without any impact on their pensions.

Home Care agencies have also expressed interested in recruiting volunteers and retirees, as well as workforce sharing
across the sector.

Social care providers, healthcare workers and volunteers across the UK are able to register to use the platform now.

After going through compliance checks, including qualifications and criminal record, users update their profile with skills
and experience.

Care providers follow a similar process, adding details about their care setting and skills required. The platform’s algorithm
will match relevant positions to users.

Users apply for preferred positions, and the care provider will select a candidate. Everything is managed for free through the
platform, which also stores reminders of upcoming shifts, and allows for cancellations.

Care professionals who can join include doctors, nurses, care workers, support workers, physiotherapists and occupational
therapists. They can apply for shifts covering clinical staff rota gaps in a variety of care settings.

Anyone can join as a volunteer, regardless of work background. They can apply for non-clinical work, such as picking up
shopping for those self-isolating, or providing services such as cleaning and laundry.

Florence co-founder Dr. Charles Armitage: “There is a desperate desire across the country for people to be able to do
something to help but people don’t know how to channel their efforts.

“The National Care Force is a movement that will significantly impact the national effort against COVID-19 and allow
everyone to play their part. 

“As a company, we have vast experience in using technology to mobilise massive, flexible workforces. The whole Florence
team is working nonstop to deliver this solution.”

Published: 18th March 2020

Source: Homecare Insight

Page URL:

Budget 2020: £30million Boost for Changing Places Toilets

Budget 2020: £30million Boost for Changing Places Toilets

Chancellor, Rishi Sunak MP, will be announcing a £30 million investment for Changing Places toilets in the Budget
on Wednesday 11th March. The new Changing Places Fund will see the Government match fund the costs of
installing Changing Places toilets in existing buildings in England.  

You can read the budget here. 

The Changing Places Consortium strongly welcome this news and know what a huge impact it will have for every
person that depends on these vital toilets to live their lives without worrying when they will be able to access a toilet
that meets their needs.

The Changing Places Consortium and Changing Places toilet campaigners met with Rishi Sunak and Government
officials back in 2018 and 2019 to discuss how the Government could help increase Changing Places toilet provision. 

Rishi Sunak is also expected to confirm that Changing Places toilets will be compulsory in new public buildings by
the end of the year. This follows the Government consultation last year.  

This will mean more disabled people can go out, shop, and socialise without worrying about a lack of toilets.

Changing Places toilets have more room than a standard accessible toilet, with specialist equipment such as an
adult-sized changing bench and a hoist system.

Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak said:

“Where people shop, go out, or travel should not be determined by their disability. Yet, currently the lack of the right
facilities can prevent some people from enjoying the day-to-day activities many of us take for granted. I want to change
that, which is why my Budget this week is about spreading opportunity, not only across different parts of the country,
but also throughout our communities.”

The Government will set out further details on the Changing Places toilet Fund in due course. We will share more
details as soon as we have them. The Consortium will work closely with the Government to identify those sectors where
the provision of Changing Places toilets needs to be accelerated.

Published: 11th March 2020

Source: Changing Places

Page URL:

Coronavirus Related Scams

Coronavirus Related Scams

Fraudsters are exploiting the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus to facilitate various types of fraud and cyber crime.

Published: 6th March 2020

Source: City of London Police

Coronavirus: Action Plan – A Guide to What You can Expect Across the UK

Coronavirus: Action Plan – A Guide to What You can Expect Across the UK

This document sets out what the UK as a whole has done – and plans to do – to tackle the
coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, based on experiences of dealing with other infectious
diseases and influenza pandemic preparedness work.

Published: 3rd March 2020

Source: GOV UK

Financial Help if you’re Disabled

Financial Help if you’re Disabled

GOV UK‘s guidance on a wide range of disability-related financial support, including benefits, tax credits, payments, grants and concessions.

Some benefits you might get are:

  • Universal Credit
  • Personal Independence Payment (PIP) or Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
  • Attendance Allowance
  • Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

Depending on your circumstances, you might also be able to get:

This guide is also available in Welsh (Cymraeg).

Vehicles and transport

If you’re disabled you can apply for the following:

Home and housing

If you’ve been assessed by your local council as needing care and support services, you can get:

  • Direct payments – allowing you to buy in and arrange help yourself instead of getting it directly from social services
  • Disabled Facilities Grants – which is money towards the costs of home adaptations to enable you to continue living there

If you’re on a low income

You may be eligible for Universal Credit and could get help with housing costs.

If not, check if you’re eligible for Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction from your local council.

Help if you’re employed

You may be able to top up a low salary by claiming Universal CreditIncome Support or Working Tax Credit.

You also might be able to get an Access to Work grant to pay for:

  • special equipment, adaptations or support worker services to help you do things like answer the phone or go to meetings
  • help getting to and from work
  • mental health support
  • communication support at a job interview (for example, a British Sign Language interpreter or a lipspeaker)

VAT relief on certain goods and services

You do not have to pay VAT on certain goods and services if they’re just for your own use and you’re disabled or have a long term illness.

Armed forces compensation

You may be able to get compensation if you’ve been injured or disabled while serving in the armed forces.

Disability and sickness benefits

Disability Living Allowance for children

Disability Living Allowance for children (DLA) is a tax-free benefit for children under 16 to help with the extra costs caused by long-term ill health or a disability.

Disability Living Allowance for adults

Personal Independence Payment is gradually replacing DLA for adults with long-term ill health or a disability. If you’ve reached State Pension age you can apply for Attendance Allowance instead.

Personal Independence Payment

Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is a tax-free benefit for people aged 16 or over who have not reached State Pension age. It can help with the extra costs caused by long term ill-health or a disability.

Attendance Allowance

Attendance Allowance is a tax-free benefit for people who are State Pension age or over, have a disability and need someone to help look after them.

Employment and Support Allowance

You may be able to get Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) if you cannot work because of illness or disability.


Carer’s Allowance is extra money to help you look after someone with substantial caring needs.

You could also get Carer’s Credit so there will not be any gaps in your National Insurance record if you have to take on caring responsibilities.

Published: 10th February 2020

Source: GOV UK

Story URL:

Dolphin Lifts Midlands Supports Local Charity this Christmas

Dolphin Lifts Midlands Supports Local Charity this Christmas

As part of its ongoing commitment to supporting the local area, Tipton based Dolphin Lifts Midlands recently made a substantial donation to the Black Country Foodbank.

The donation was the idea of Teresa Farrington, wife of Managing Director Lee Farrington.  “When our daughter Olivia took part in harvest festival at school, all the children took food into school for the foodbank and when she explained what amazing work they do I decided we would do something similar at work” explained Teresa.

Everyone at Dolphin Lifts Midlands was asked to bring in a donation and the results were amazing with staff bringing in everything from milk and soup through to toilet roll, rice, pasta and much much more.

Teresa, along with Holly Truss and Bev Turner then loaded everything into a van and delivered it to the Foodbank ‘s warehouse on Albion Street, Brierly Hill from where it is sent out to 23 distribution centres around the Black Country.  “Seeing at first hand what amazing work everyone at the Foodbank does makes you appreciate how lucky you are to be able to take having food at home for granted” continued Teresa.

“Donations such as this are invaluable to us and I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone at Dolphin Lifts Midlands, especially Teresa for organising such a generous donation” commented Manager Mike Crook.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank all our staff for their generosity.  We pride ourselves on being a local business which supports the local community and I hope what we have done makes a small difference to people who may be going through tough times over the festive period” said Managing Director Lee Farrington

For more information on the Black Country Foodbank visit telephone 01384 671250, or email:

Established for over 30 years, Dolphin Lifts Midlands Ltd is an independent family run business.  Over the past three decades, the company has built a reputation for providing its customers with high quality access solutions which are backed by superb levels of customer care and after sales support.  The range of products available include stairlifts, wheelchair lifts, through the floor lifts and hoists all of which are manufactured by leading UK companies.  For more information on the full range of products available or to book a no obligation assessment call 0800 032 2080 or visit

Published: 12th December 2019

BHTA Scottish Conference – Tuesday 21st January 2020 – Book Your Place Today!

BHTA Scottish Conference – Tuesday 21st January 2020 – Book Your Place Today!

BHTA will be holding its third annual BHTA Conference at the Macdonald Holyrood Hotel in Edinburgh on Tuesday 21st January 2020.

The conference will follow a similar theme to last year’s very successful event, with keynote speakers from Scottish MSP’s, leading thinkers, and other stakeholders in Healthcare Scotland and BHTA members.

We will also be holding a ‘Question Time’ session in the afternoon with confirmed panel members including Alex Cole Hamilton, Liberal Democrat MSP for the constituency of Edinburgh Western and a member of the Health and Sport Committee and Miles Briggs, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party MSP for Lothian and a member of the Health and Sport Committee.

We have a range of speakers lined up including  Jackie Baillie, MSP who has recently launched a public consultation on a short term wheelchair loans service. Pennie Taylor is a well respected freelance journalist and broadcaster and has a particular interest with public involvement with NHS Development. Many of you will remember Michelle Thompson who gave us a lively introduction to Brexit at last year’s conference, who will be back again this year, to give us her insight to the current market.

We have confirmed the programme – please click link to see the PDF.

Its a great opportunity for members with businesses north of the border or who have sales representatives there, to combine a business trip and a conference.

We have agreed room rates available for members at the Macdonald Holyrood if you are wishing to stay over.

We look forward to seeing you on 11th January for another informative and impact full day in raising the profile of BHTA Scotland member companies and our association with key stakeholders across the Scottish Healthcare arena.

To book your place or for further information contact Steve Perry on

Published: 11th December 2019