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NHS calls for help on superbugs

The NHS is calling on air conditioning and ventilation businesses to provide it with new technology to beat hospital bugs such as MRSA.

The Smart Solutions for healthcare associated infections (HCAIs) programme offers businesses the chance to have their product assessed by a team of independent experts, with a view to evaluating it in a hospital setting and potentially supplying it across the NHS.

Reducing HCAIs is one of the top priorities for the NHS in the coming years. It is investing significant sums in improving infection prevention and control and has set itself some challenging targets. While the basic ways of reducing HCAIs are largely unchanged, new technologies and equipment could help to meet these goals more quickly.

Project director Bryan Griffiths from TrusTECH, the NHS Innovation Hub for the North West of England which is managing the project on a national basis, said air conditioning and ventilation were among the sectors which could offer potential solutions.

He said: “Our aim is to find the most effective new solutions to control HCAIs and we are keeping an open mind as to where these could come from. Whether it is a product from a medical company, something developed for a completely different purpose or even an idea from an entrepreneurial inventor working in their spare room, we will assess its potential.

'There may be some sectors which prove to be a particularly good source of ideas - especially those such as air conditioning and ventilation, which may have innovative products or have developed ‘cleanroom’ technologies to provide the right conditions for manufacturing and processing. The originators of these technologies may not have even considered the fact that they may have healthcare applications and could generate an additional source of revenue.

'The Smart Solutions programme is an opportunity for these companies to have their products tested for healthcare use within the NHS, and potentially offers a ‘fast track’ route to becoming a supplier to hospitals and healthcare organisations across the UK.'

The Smart Solutions programme aims to identify new technologies that are not currently in use, or have not been widely adopted, within the NHS. The programme is open to businesses or other non-NHS organisations of any size, from any sector.