Barrow-in-Furness GP Dr Farhan Amin contacted BAE Systems in the hope that the company would use its 3D printing technology to produce a small number of face visors to top up personal protective equipment (PPE) provided to local practices.
Just two weeks after his initial decision to reach out, staff who usually produce parts for fighter aircraft and submarines have already produced more than 20,000 face shields for NHS staff - and the company has promised to donate more than 120,000 in total.
Dr Amin, a partner at the Burnett Edgar Medical Centre, told GPonline his own practice and local hot hubs being set up by GPs wanted the shields but found they were not available.
Public Health England has recently updated its advice to make clear that any GP in contact with a possible or confirmed COVID-19 case should be wearing eye protection in addition to other PPE.
Initially, however, it did not recommend eye protection, and BMA polling shows most GPs do not have access to this key element of protective equipment - with many also reporting shortages of other PPE.
Dr Amin said in his local area the supply problem for eye protection in primary care was now solved after BAE Systems' help - with GPs and nursing staff in all local practices and hubs now using the equipment.
Around a week after his initial request, hundreds of visors in boxes had arrived at Dr Amin's house - and were distributed to local primary care providers with support from volunteers including specialist medical accountant Andy Pow.
Mr Pow, a spokesman for the Association of Specialist Medical Accountants (Aisma) and partner at Mazars UK said his employer gave him time off and he and his son made deliveries from the initial batch to local primary care providers and a local hospital.
BAE Systems technology director Dave Short said: 'We’ve all been moved by the personal bravery of those working in the NHS who face the virus close up every day, so we wanted to help in any way we could.
'At the same time as talking to suppliers, colleagues from our technology team and our air sector joined forces to design and manufacture our first 3D printed face shield in less than 24 hours. We kept in constant dialogue with our NHS contacts to ensure this met their requirements and had the first shields with them in less than two days.'
He added: 'We’ve already delivered the first batch of 3D printed face shields, but to really make a difference, our supply chain is manufacturing a further 120,000 face shields to their own designs.
'More than 20,000 face shields are already on their way to locations around the country, with the remaining face shields set to be delivered to the NHS this month.'
Dr Amin said enquiries had been received from NHS providers across a huge geographical area who would now receive a share of the face visors - some of which are reusable - being produced through the initiative.
'It's been a fantastic collaboration that has brought business and the community together,' he said. 'This challenge of coronavirus cannot be dealt with by any one organisaion. We need to do as much as we can together to minimise the impact and the chances of people catching it.
'Any number of days doctors are out of action because of illness that could be prevented increases pressure on the profession and the risk to patients.'