Following articles on George Freeman and the ACOBA findings, published on 26th January 2021, it is clear there are misunderstandings and factual errors regarding the interactions between Mr. George Freeman MP, and one of the founders of AerosolShield Ltd., Matthew Campbell-Hill.
During the height of the first wave of COVID19 in the UK, we, a small group of UK academics (specialists in medical technologies and highly regulated industries) and NHS clinicians came together with a shared goal of protecting their friends and family by creating a novel way to protect healthcare workers and environments from contamination.
The shared commitment included providing the shields to the NHS as soon as possible, at ‘below or close to cost of manufacture’. - This was explicitly NOT about making a profit, but protecting our friends, family and colleagues, and continues to be so. To date, the three directors have taken out substantial loans to support this work.
During this time, the UK Government issued a call to Ministers, past and present, to find and alert the NHS to any new and helpful medical technologies.
During these early weeks a public fundraiser was set up to raise funds towards the purchase of AerosolShields for NHS use. A major donor to this fund contacted one of the directors and suggested that they introduce the AerosolShield team to Mr. Freeman, as part of this drive.
It is important to note that Mr. Freeman had not met any of the team prior to this, including the lead designer, Matthew Campbell-Hill, but it was noted at the time that they had similar backgrounds.
Mr. Freeman provided advice to AerosolShield pro bono, as per the direction issued at the time by the Government to all Ministers.
The team followed the routes to acknowledgement as requested by DHSC, but this did not result in any contracts or purchase as it was a new technology and they were unable to consider items outside of their scope.
Knowing that NHS clinicians were keen to use the AerosolShields, the AerosolShield team then looked at commercial models to help support manufacture and distribution.
With his significant experience in corporate fundraising of medical technologies through his professional work prior to being elected, the team approached Mr Freeman again and asked for his advice and support in preparing for and landing investment. This was at a crucial point which enabled AerosolShield to scale up production and was a short-term venture.
The team are not privy to Mr. Freeman’s personal correspondence but were informed that he had received positive feedback from ACOBA before the contract proceeded. The work was over the noted short period and Mr. Freeman has not worked with the company since.
To date, AerosolShields have been used across the NHS to help protect thousands of staff and clinical environments from COVID19 exposure, and the team have continued to financially support the procurement by the NHS.
1) The AerosolShield is not 'PPE'. It is a miniature isolation tent and falls under the regulatory requirements of Isolation Tents, which is wholly separate from 'PPE'.
2) Matthew Campbell-Hill did not 'work alongside' Mr. Freeman prior to being introduced to him last year as part of the Government requested call to action in finding ways to protect and support the NHS.
AerosolShield was introduced to Mr. Freeman by an early donor to the crowdfunding campaign, which was set up to enable quick supply to the NHS.
3) The work of 'securing approval' was the very same that the Government had requested of the public and anyone working for the Government.
4) The remunerated portion of work was short term and AerosolShield were informed by Mr. Freeman that permission for this was granted by ACOBA before commencement.