Cumbria

Coronavirus: Barrow submarine engineers' curtain hooks in demand

Curtain hook Image copyright BAE Systems
Image caption There's a national shortage of these things

Submarine engineers have responded to a second plea for isolation bed curtain hooks after the coronavirus pandemic led to a shortage.

BAE Systems in Cumbria, which made the hooks for a local hospital, has been approached by a hospice 300 miles way facing the same supply difficulties.

St Helena Hospice in Colchester said they were "very hard to get hold of".

Facilities manager Bernard Barford said BAE's help was remarkable considering "they're not even in our area".

"They just said yes, how many do you want, we can do it for you," Mr Barford said.

Image copyright BAE Systems
Image caption BAE head of engineering Michael Fraser was happy to help

Hospice facilities administrator Michelle Blair spotted a BBC story about the first batch of hooks and called BAE in Barrow to ask for help.

The firm's head of engineering, specialist engineering and technology Michael Fraser said engineers had been "happy to oblige" with no charge.

To control infection the hospice has to dispose of curtains once a patient vacates a room.

But the hooks are liable to break as curtains are repeatedly hung up or taken down.

"I think that's the reason why they've suddenly become a valuable item," Mr Barford said.

Curtains sold with hooks included became scarce two months ago so the hospice had to buy curtains alone.

"Even then, we still had to wait some time to get them," Mr Barford said.

"Everybody's having to buy disposable curtains without the hooks so therefore everybody's now after the hooks as well as the curtains."

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