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Pioneering catheter design receives award from engineers

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The inventors of a new type of catheter have been presented with a “clinical impact” award by a leading body of engineers.

Those behind the new Flume Catheter – revealed exclusively by Nursing Times earlier this month – believe it has the potential to solve many of the common problems associated with more traditional models.

For example, they hope it will help to reduce painful infections and embarrassing leaks for patients and reducing the workload for nurses.

The device was officially unveiled by Suffolk GP John Havard and business partner Roger Holmes at an Institution of Mechanical Engineers’ conference in London this week.

The Incontinence: The Engineering Challenge event focused on the latest technology and research to address the problem of incontinence.

The pair, who are hoping to get funding to trial the device with real patients, said they were delighted to win the “clinical impact” award for their presentation at the event.

The Flume Catheter is believed to be the first entirely new catheter design since the Foley catheter, which has been in use since 1937.

Laboratory trials have shown it takes much longer to block that existing models when filled with infected urine.

Meanwhile, its innovative balloon design is intended to reduce the risk of infections occurring in the first place.

Saxmundham Health/Flume

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John Havard

Nurse researchers will play a key role in trialling the device if the Flume Catheter Company is successful in winning a major grant to take the product forward.

Meanwhile, its creators have called on nurses across the country to help them shape the design by sharing their experiences of problems linked to catheter use by completing a short survey.

Commenting on the award for the innovation, Dr Havard said: “We were delighted to win this clinical impact award at the continence conference held at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in Westminster.

“It was very special to achieve recognition from a group of experts in the field who clearly believe that Flume could make a real difference to patients,” he added.

Dr Peter Culmer, associate professor of the surgical technologies research group at Leeds University and the principal investigator of the IMPRESS network, was one of the competition judges.

He said: “The work of Roger Holmes and his team was recognised unanimously by the judging panel for the use of engineering to bring true innovation to catheter design, which has previously seen little change since its introduction in the 1930s.”

Dr Helen Meese, head of healthcare at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, also recognised the importance of developing new catheter designs like that of the Flume.

“In our recent report – Incontinence: Engineering Advances to Enhance Quality of Life we highlighted that there is a critical need for technological innovation, to enable healthcare systems to deliver sustainable, cost-effective care for incontinence that will result in improved quality of life,” she said.

“The institution believes that additional research funding is needed to encourage more collaborations such as this,” she added.

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