A FURNITURE business has suspended manufacturing of its core products to supply essential items to the new NHS Nightingale hospitals.

Altham’s The Senator Group ordinarily supplies office and business furniture, but has now focused its business model to deploy around 250 staff to meet the increasing needs of the NHS during the coronavirus pandemic.

The company has made its first delivery of around 7,000 items of furniture to the new hospitals in Birmingham, Manchester and existing NHS facilities.

This will include patient bedside lockers and overbed tables, along with patient chairs and tables.

Further orders are also being completed for the Nightingale Hospital in Glasgow.

Managing director Robert Mustoe said: “We are extremely proud to work with the NHS and to be able to support them at this time, and we thank our staff for the extraordinary effort they are putting into their work to fulfil these vital orders.

“Through our Teal brand and our Senator dealer partners we have been working as a supplier to the NHS for many years.

"Now, with the increased need for our products, on a much shorter lead time, we are pleased to be able to help.

“While our global headquarters are based in Lancashire, we have operations in China, Singapore, India and the USA so, as a business, like many others, we are feeling the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Mr Mustoe said that given the speed required to fulfil orders for the NHS, staff at The Senator Group and Teal are working flat out.

He added: “Production is now well and truly under way, with healthcare products at these sites, which include Huncoat, Altham, Whitebirk and Lower Darwen,

“I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who is doing their bit within Teal or Senator to keep the factories moving and the product flowing, our dedicated employees and suppliers are what are keeping us going in such critical times.”

Last month Senator was one of three East Lancashire companies criticised by staff for “putting staff at risk by keeping the workplace open”.

Responding at the time, Mr Mustoe said that arrangements had been made for staff to work from home where possible and said anyone who had doubts about their health should not come in and would be entitled to sick pay.

He added: “It’s very complicated and the easy way is just to shut down - we’re trying to protect the future of our employees going forward and at the same time supply what the country needs at the moment.”