University provides solution for NHS PPE training

Friday, 17 April 2020

The University of Nottingham has come to the aid of the NHS in Nottinghamshire with the supply of a special solution that is used to train staff to properly use PPE masks.

After supplies of Fit Testing solution became scarce, Nottinghamshire Healthcare’s procurement team asked for help on social media in developing the solution. They had supplies of Bitrex in solid form, but not the facility to transform that into usable solution.

Professor Simon Langley-Evans, Head of the School of Biosciences responded to that call, and with all his students away, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, worked with technician John Corrie, to make 10 litres of solution (300 bottles) for the NHS to use.

Bitrex solution is a bitter tasting chemical that is essential when training staff to use PPE masks, to ensure the safety of themselves and others during an infection outbreak. It tastes revolting, so if it is squirted in your face when you have a mask on and you can taste it, then your mask is not fitted correctly.

When I saw the call out on social media I knew immediately this was something I could help with. Making the solution was quite straightforward as we had all the ingredients here on campus at Sutton Bonington, the hardest part was decanting and labelling the 300 bottles! The job did leave a bit of an aftertaste too as for four days after finishing the job, I couldn’t get the taste of the solution out of my mouth – however a small price to pay to know I have helped the NHS during these difficult times.
Simon Langley-Evans

The ten litres of solution was delivered just in time for a training session with medical staff who are being redeployed to clinical areas. There is also enough solution to share with colleagues at NUH and Sherwood Forest Hospitals. Carol Evans, IPC Lead, commented that the solution that was just finished was from 2008, from the SARs outbreak, so it lasts a long time!

John Williams is Head of Procurement for Nottinghamshire Healthcare: “Thanks to Simon for taking up the challenge! It’s very much appreciated. We can’t thank everyone enough who is helping the NHS at the moment – it means a great deal to us all.”



Story credits

More information is available from Simon Langley-Evans at  or Jane Icke, Media Relations Manager for the Faculty of Science at the University of Nottingham, on +44 (0)115 74 86462 or 

Jane Icke - Media Relations Manager Science
Phone: 0115 7486462

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Notes to editors:

The University of Nottingham is a research-intensive university with a proud heritage. Studying at the University of Nottingham is a life-changing experience and we pride ourselves on unlocking the potential of our students. We have a pioneering spirit, expressed in the vision of our founder Sir Jesse Boot, which has seen us lead the way in establishing campuses in China and Malaysia - part of a globally connected network of education, research and industrial engagement. Ranked 103rd out of more than 1,000 institutions globally and 18th in the UK by the QS World University Rankings 2022, the University’s state-of-the-art facilities and inclusive and disability sport provision is reflected in its crowning as The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2021 Sports University of the Year. We are ranked eighth for research power in the UK according to REF 2014. We have six beacons of research excellence helping to transform lives and change the world; we are also a major employer and industry partner - locally and globally. Alongside Nottingham Trent University, we lead the Universities for Nottingham initiative, a pioneering collaboration which brings together the combined strength and civic missions of Nottingham’s two world-class universities and is working with local communities and partners to aid recovery and renewal following the COVID-19 pandemic.

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