Local fashion social enterprise makes medical scrubs for NHS

By Luchia Robinson

Textile workers in Tottenham are playing an instrumental role in equipping NHS staff with medical scrubs.

Fashion Enter – a social enterprise based in Harringay ward, makes garments and teaches technical fashion skills to local women.

It has won a contract to make 10,000 sets of scrubs (a V-neck top and a pair of elasticated trousers) for the NHS, with an additional 12,000 pairs of trousers.

Approximately 4,000 medical scrub garments (2,000 sets) are made within a four-day period. Fashion Enter aims to increase the rates of production so that 20,000 garments can be produced in a week.

“We can take any woman who just has an interest in stitching, and we can give her skills to make her own clothes, or start her own brand. We’ve helped so many people in Haringey, so many disadvantaged [women] who have lost confidence. We all get that curve ball in life where life goes wrong and you lose your confidence, and self-esteem,” said Jennifer Holloway, CEO, Fashion Enter.

“We’re just very proud to be doing our bit – [we] are delighted to be supporting the NHS.”

The current demand for medical scrubs and PPE [Personal Protective Equipment] is high, but supply is short, as channels of distribution have been greatly challenged because of the outbreak of the virus. Criticisms have been widely levelled at the government for a lack of preparedness regarding national stock levels and its unsteady supply.

“It was very clear with the outbreak of COVID-19 that there was going to be issues in the supply chain,” said Jennifer.

“This is quite a dynamic, moving situation, and at the moment we are happy making the scrubs – we know they’re lovely, and they’re made with love from Tottenham.”

The scrubs, (which are made from a heavy polycotton, with three-pocket detailing), are sent to an intermediary who then packs and delivers them to NHS warehouses, before they are distributed to various NHS trusts across the country.

A North Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust spokesperson said: “We have worked hard with our staff, suppliers and partners to ensure that we have sufficient PPE at the right time in the right places for the right people. Our clinical teams and our support staff – particularly the ‘unsung heroes’ in our stores and distribution department – have done a tremendous job in difficult circumstances over the past couple of months.

“We maintain close scrutiny on stock levels, usage, and requirements, to ensure this valuable resource is deployed appropriately, ensuring Team North Mid can deliver patient care safely. We also maintain close communication with our staff to answer any queries and have the information as well as the equipment to carry out their vital roles.”

North Mid is grateful to receive scrubs for their microbiology specialists who normally wear their own clothes to work.

“One aspect of ensuring all equipment is available when and where it is needed – not just during the current pandemic, but as a principle for everyday – has been supporting our staff to keep work clothes and home clothes separate.”

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