NHS Scrubs - Responding to the national shortage of PPE during the Covid-19 Pandemic

Producing digital graded patterns and technical production packs

This research aimed to provide coronavirus support for UK garment manufactures due to the urgent need for medical scrubs and gowns during the first stage of the global pandemic.

The academic and technical services team at Manchester Fashion Institute responded to the request for help from their local NHS teams in the North West of England. This work was completed virtually in a 12 week timeframe with all stakeholders as a direct result of the Covid-19 restrictions.

The team produced digital graded patterns and technical production packs so that any suitable UK – based manufacturers could step forward to assist in the manufacture of these types of PPE products. The team deconstructed samples of existing garments, simplifying the design to allow the garments to be produced at scale quickly in the UK and made their production pack freely available. The open-sourced garment designs that were approved by the NHS were able to play a key role in addressing shortages across the UK PPE supply chain at the height of the pandemic.

Manchester Fashion Institute also secured the manufacturing support of HMP Prison Industries to produce initial bulk quantities of the PPE as a number of UK garment manufacturers had already closed their manufacturing sites and put their staff on furlough due to lock down restrictions in the UK at that time.

This project illustrates an important example of how universities can use their technical and scientific expertise to support frontline NHS workers by finding innovative garment solutions to the challenges posed by the Coronavirus pandemic.

Project Lead

Barbara Shepherd

Barbara Shepherd

Principal Lecturer / Knowledge Exchange Lead

Project Researchers

Technical Services – Manchester Fashion Institute

Collaborative Partners


Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA)


Open Sourced Technical packs made available through GMCA and MMU websites



MAY 2020- PPE Workstream of GM Recovery Plan

As part of the Greater Manchester (GM) Covid Recovery plan, a series of working groups are being established to look in to specific themes that will be important, both in an immediate sense, but also as part of the longer-term recovery plan, leading to the “Build Back Better” approach that GM has proposed. 

Jan 2021- Now working directly with the PPE Cell appointed by the cabinet office to support UK Make in relation to future UK PPE manufacture  

COVID-19 Response – Grant application in work

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