Jennifer East, a consultant nurse, takes BBC News health reporter, Anna-Marie Lever, on an exclusive tour around the new hospital furniture designs
A bedside cabinet with no corners, an early warning mattress system and a self-timing cannula - these are just some of new hospital furniture designs that have been unveiled by the Design Council.
The prototypes use cutting edge techniques to help make them easier to clean and fight against the spread of MRSA and other healthcare associated infections (HCAIs).
Recent research has shown that near-patient hand-touch sites provide the greatest risk for patient contamination.
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Professor Brain Duerden, inspector of microbiology and infection control at the Department of Health says: "These new designs are about breaking the chain of transmission between patients and staff.
"The prototypes are easy to use and easy to clean."
The news designs have round edges, eliminating hard-to-clean joins and inaccessible areas, and are made from tougher, smoother surfaces which don't harbour bacteria.
The eleven designs include:
a bedside cabinet - a continuous moulded form makes for easy cleaning. Drawers are fitted with electronic wristband locks
curtain handles - provide an easily sanitised 'grab-zone'. Magnets ensure that curtains fully close
an 'intelligent mattress' - changes colour when wet using special ink, allows for regular assessment rather than the current once yearly audit
a self-timing cannula - visual panel indicates removal. Previously, it has been problematic to monitor when the tube, which delivers fluids to the patient, should be changed
Jennifer East, a consultant nurse for infection protection control at Imperial College Healthcare Trust says: "Some of these designs are ready to go, like the commode, we should be seeing them in our hospitals towards the end of the year."
The working prototypes are currently being taken on a national tour of seven hospitals, where nurses, porters and cleaners are invited to take a look and fill out an evaluation questionnaire.
removable armrests and seat covers
At Hammersmith Hospital the response has been generally positive:
"I gave this one [bedside cabinet] a high mark," a nurse told me, "it is made of plastic rather than wood so it can be cleaned with a single swipe - and no angles!"
However, another nurse was not so sure: "It [patient chair] is not practical it will take time to remove the linen between patients, and linen shortages are likely. It is easier to wipe a surface down."
The Department of Health commissioned the Design Council to lead the 'Design Bugs Out' project as part of its HCAI Technology Innovation Programme. The programme aims to speed up the development and adoption of new and novel technologies to help combat healthcare associated infections, especially MRSA and C.Difficile.
Experts in the fields of healthcare, microbiology, nursing, and patient care were involved in advising and assessing the new furniture design.
Some of Britain's top designers and manufactures were appointed as part of the challenge.
A team from PersonLoyd, responsible for Virgin's Upper Class seats, designed the patient bedside chair and commode; while Hollington, the Parker Pen designers, suggested one of the two patient cabinets designs.
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