THE Worcester firm in a race against time to build ventilators to help beat coronavirus say staff from Worcestershire Royal Hospital have been to visit and believe their plan is workable.

Gtech, based in Warndon, has decided to swap its usual focus on vacuums to design and manufacture its own ventilators to help the health service rapidly expand its ability to treat critically ill patients.

Owner Nick Grey began working on the project last weekend after being contacted by Gareth Rhys Williams, the government’s chief commercial officer.

A spokesman for Gtech said: “We have got people working from home as much as we can and we are putting as much into this as we can. It is a small-ish team, about 10 of them, working on it and finalising it with the hospital, which will be needing extra ventilators. Over the weekend, people from the Worcestershire Royal Hospital came and spoke to Nick, who felt it could work.

“Gtech is still busy working on the ventilator at the moment and we will be publishing details and videos so other companies can get onboard.”

READ MORE: District council grants £120,000 to community hub project

There were design problems at first; oxygen is a very reactive gas, which rules out many motors and electrical devices.

Normal air operated cylinders can only run on air, not pure oxygen so they could not be used.

The breakthrough was to repurpose an everyday syringe into an oxygen-powered ram.

READ MORE: Funerals taking place "with nobody there" due to coronavirus

A valve directs oxygen into the syringe which squeezes a self-inflating air container delivering 400ml of air directly to the patients’ lungs.

A second syringe acts as a timer and once the ‘breath’ has been delivered resets the ram ready for the next cycle.

In order to save and conserve oxygen, the waste gas is fed into a reservoir to enrich the patients’ air supply.

The ventilator is driven and controlled entirely from the hospital oxygen supply without the need for electricity.