North East entrepreneur improves patient safety

An innovative wound dressing developed by a North East entrepreneur is now being used in hospitals in the region and will soon be helping improve patient safety across the country.

Ged McGonnell, managing director of medical device company G-MED UK, has developed a safer way for medics to provide care for critically ill patients with the help of Newcastle Science City and two intensive care nurses from University Hospital of North Durham.

The arterial catheter is one of the most common monitoring tools available in Intensive Therapy Units today and is also widely used in theatre, High Dependency Units and coronary care units. However, as an invasive device – which secures a cannula into an artery – it has the potential to cause many serious complications, including haemorrhage, necrosis and infection if not managed properly.

G-MED’s new Arterial Fixation Device has been designed to reduce these clinical risks. By using colour-coding, improved adhesive, a date panel and window area in the cannula dressing, the new design reduces the risk of accidental injections of medicines into the arterial line, accidental removal of the cannula and allows medics to check for early signs of infection.

The dressing is already being used on the wards at County Durham and Darlington NHS Trust and will next month become available to other NHS Trusts across the country before being rolled out to mainland Europe. It is being also being entered for the National Patient Safety Awards.

The product was brought to market with the help of Newcastle Science City’s business support team who secured funding for G-MED UK to take the product through a rapid prototyping phase.

Ged said: “There is incredible potential for this product across the world because the risks associated with badly managed cannula dressings are so serious and this new design eliminates those risks.

 “It has been really thrilling to see the product launched in the UK and I’ve already had a great deal of interest from mainland Europe so we will be focussing there next before seeking to get approval for the US market.

 “If it hadn’t been for Newcastle Science City then our products would still just be pictures on a computer screen. The business support team has guided us through the whole process using their networks and sector knowledge and it has proved a very smooth and easy way of getting our product in front of the right people. We are now working on a series of other ideas that all stem from problem-solving within the healthcare sector.”

G-MED UK is one of hundreds of North East companies the business support team has worked with to commercialise new insight-led ideas, helping them to innovate and grow. Using the organisation’s unique networks, experience, sector knowledge and business development model, the team helps entrepreneurs and established businesses bypass the early pitfalls associated with launching new products and services.

Simon Green, head of business support at Newcastle Science City, said: “G-MED is a great example of a company using an understanding of unmet needs to launch a new product. Ged understood early on that the best people to work out what clinicians need are clinicians themselves. This is just the first of a string of innovative ideas coming from clinicians and being commercialised through the company”.

Nurses Barbara Jameson and Pat Hogg struck upon the idea to improve the arterial catheter while working on the wards at University Hospital North Durham. Their idea was developed into a product and licensed by G-MED UK.

The Arterial Fixation Device is the first of a suite of products currently under development by G-MED UK which are designed to fill a gap in healthcare services.

Newcastle Science City is part financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), managed by the Department for Communities and Local Government, securing £2.3million of ERDF investment. The ERDF Competitiveness Programme 2007-2013 is bringing over £300m into the North East to support innovation, enterprise and business support across the region.