A pathology service has improved the way it transports important tissue samples around a hospital site – after teaming up with a special innovations team.
Helen Ashcroft, phlebotomist at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust had an idea to design a bespoke fit-for-purpose trolley.
The trolleys Helen and her team were previously using were industrial and heavy and difficult to manoeuvre. This led them to attempt to adapt a much smaller trolley by adding a toolbox for storing equipment – but this was challenging to move around and increased the risk of members of the team getting back problems.
In 2019, Helen approached the innovations team at NTH Solutions – a subsidiary company for the Trust – with her idea and asked for support in designing and manufacturing a trolley suited to their needs.
It needed to be ergonomic, lightweight, have suitable storage, and include clinical waste disposal, while also having to meet stringent infection control standards and be height adjustable to suit individual needs.
Helen’s journey to innovation
Helen said: “After experiencing many problems with the trolleys we had available we tried to adapt them to best suit our needs but nothing was up to scratch. I decided to contact the innovations team to see if they could research alternatives or help me to create a design.
“The idea was then taken through the innovation pathway, the innovation team worked with external specialists to come up with a designs and prototypes. We were given the opportunity to test and feedback any issues or suggested changes to the product to best suit our needs.
“Once we had trialled the latest prototype we were thrilled that it was everything we had hoped for. The team and I are proud to be have been involved in the process which has resulted in a trolley which makes our day to day working lives much better and more efficient.
“We are excited to hear that other healthcare providers are showing an interest in our trolley and hope that they can also see the benefits should they decide to roll them out across the NHS.
“I would definitely recommend staff to reach out to the innovations team with any ideas on how they could improve their own working lives or improve the experience or care for our patients by doing different things or doing things differently.”
Making Helen’s trolley idea a reality
The trolley has now been adopted and is being used on wards and departments. And our staff can already feel the benefits. The trolley has enough storage to ensure the team are not travelling back and forth to restock improving both efficiency and time.
It includes a lightweight but durable frame – half the weight of current medication trolleys on the market but durable to regular use.
Consultant in obstetrics and gynaecology and Chair of the Trust’s innovation panel, Elaine Gouk, added: “It’s wonderful to see one of our members of staff come up with a great idea which has come to fruition and is improving working lives across our organisation.
“We hope that when staff see the benefits of the innovation process and how easy it can be to make a difference more people will come forward with fantastic ideas. The staff who are doing the day to day are the experts in their fields and the unique knowledge they hold can unlock hidden gems.”