Introducing the healthcare challenge

Hello and thank you for visiting this post. I’d firstly like to take the opportunity to introduce myself. I am Dr Sean Gill, a Programme Manager at the Academic Health Science Network for North East and North Cumbria working in the Innovation and Economic Growth Team. AHSN NENC is the trusted intermediary between the NHS, academia and industry providing healthcare innovation across the North East and North Cumbria. We are dedicated to improving patient health, facilitating transformational patient safety and quality improvement, and supporting economic growth.

As part of the Tees Valley Business Challenge programme, I’ve been working with North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust on a challenge which needs a new product design approach. We are looking for solutions that would provide a discreet transfer for those who have passed. This doesn’t mean we need to be talking with healthcare specialists, more that we need to identify designers, engineers and inventors who understand how to make a product work.

North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust provides services to more than 400,000 people living in Stockton-on-Tees, Hartlepool, East Durham and parts of Sedgefield. It is an integrated hospital and community services organisation. The Trust faces challenges to improve on services delivered throughout their networks regarding the transfer of deceased people. When a patient passes away, the body is transferred from the ward to the mortuary through the trust premises. This can create anxiety and stress for patients, visitors and staff. The trolley that is used for the transfer purpose makes the process visible for all who may see the trolley. Also, the industrial trolley doesn’t make for a discreet journey for a loved one.

At present there is a lack of discretion for those who have passed during transportation through the hospital premises. Often, patients sharing the same ward where a death happens will witness a non-discreet mortuary trolley. This can also be difficult for visitors. When visiting a family member or friend, visitors can be exposed to the transfer of deceased people, leading to increased stress and anxiety. Medical workers are facing difficult situations every day. The sight of body removal in such environments inflicts extra emotional damages that impacts mental health at work for all present staff.

Solutions to this challenge will offer those who have passed a transfer with full discretion. Ward users would then be able to reside in the premises without having the stress and anxiety linked to the experience of seeing a mortuary trolley transfer. Although visitors would still be confronted with the illness of a family member or a friend, it is hoped they could be spared unnecessary anxiety or stress. Medical workers can then focus their efforts on the other ward users, while fulfilling their daily duties with as little emotional trauma as possible.

To get involved in this programme, organisations, businesses, and charities will need to have a registered office or trading address in one of the five Tees Valley Authorities (Darlington, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Redcar & Cleveland or Stockton-on-Tees). Further details about the challenges and our FAQ.

This is an exciting opportunity for innovative small businesses to develop a solution for the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust and create a trolley that can ensure a discrete transfer. Successful applicants will be given a £5k grant to develop a ‘prototype’ solution with the opportunity to apply for an additional £45k grant to further develop their concept.