Just when St Bernard’s Hospital needed a guaranteed supply of oxygen in the midst of the Covid-19 crisis, a production plant has now come on stream, thanks to some forward thinking by the Brexit contingency planning team.

When planning for Brexit, the GHA aimed to be as self-sufficient as possible and less reliant on medical supplies coming through the border from Spain. In the summer of 2019, it was decided to purchase an oxygen production plant rather than to rely on the existing liquid oxygen tanks (topped up from the depot in San Roque) and cylinder compressed oxygen (refilled at the depot in Jerez). In time, it was expected that this plant would also be a more cost-effective solution.

Following this decision, the GHA’s technical team travelled to Eastern Europe to see a particular plant being used successfully at a number of hospitals. It was then decided to purchase this system and, as a result, the equipment is now up and running in Gibraltar and will pay for itself within a few months.

The new plant can produce more oxygen than St Bernard’s Hospital would normally need and can also be used to fill our own cylinders.

Meanwhile at the Europa Point Hospital Nightingale Facility, oxygen is being provided through portable oxygen concentrators, and compressed oxygen cylinders. Soon, the Europa Facility will make use of a temporary liquid oxygen tank and fixed oxygen points, installed by multinational medical gas supplier, Linde Plc, in conjunction with local medical gas supplier, Oxy Ltd.

The Minister for Health and Care, the Hon Mr Paul Balban stated “St Bernard’s and the Nightingale facility now have their own guaranteed capability. Going forwards the GHA will be self-sufficient in oxygen provided from its own plant for normal usage and will continue to work closely with Oxy Ltd to ensure that we have access to imported oxygen as a back-up or for circumstances where our demand greatly exceeds normal requirements.”