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.

Simon Langley-Evans
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

Notes to editors:

About the University of Nottingham

Ranked 32 in Europe and 16th in the UK by the QS World University Rankings: Europe 2024, the University of Nottingham is a founding member of the Russell Group of research-intensive universities. 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.

Nottingham was crowned Sports University of the Year by The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2024 – the third time it has been given the honour since 2018 – and by the Daily Mail University Guide 2024.

The university is among the best universities in the UK for the strength of our research, positioned seventh for research power in the UK according to REF 2021. The birthplace of discoveries such as MRI and ibuprofen, our innovations transform lives and tackle global problems such as sustainable food supplies, ending modern slavery, developing greener transport, and reducing reliance on fossil fuels.

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We lead the Universities for Nottingham initiative, in partnership with Nottingham Trent University, a pioneering collaboration between the city’s two world-class institutions to improve levels of prosperity, opportunity, sustainability, health and wellbeing for residents in the city and region we are proud to call home.

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