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Step into the Dragons' Den

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For the last two days our offices here in London have donned the appearance of the Dragons’ Den studio, while we’ve been hosting the judging for the inaugural Nursing Times Product Awards.

We’ve introduced the Nursing Times Product Awards to honour all the products that make nurses’ and patients’ lives a little easier, more efficient and cost-effective, and we’ve been bowled over with the response. There’s some real entrepreneurs out there – who have come from both within the healthcare and medical industry, as well as a few who just turned inventor after seeing a need, some after spending time in hospital as a patient. It’s been an inspiring couple of days for me.

Our panels of judges have been looking at categories including wound care, continence care and dignity and daily living. They have scrutinised the products, and spent hours working out how and if they deliver their promises.

Each winner gets the chance to use a Platinum, Gold and Silver badge on their products, and to tell the world that in such a scrupulous judging process, the professional users of these products have been deemed their invention has been regarded as the best.

Jenni tries out one of the products

Jenni tries out one of the products

Of course, I can’t reveal the winners of our Platinum, Gold and Silver places until November 3 at the Hilton in Park Lane, but I can tell you that the standard for a first-time award was pretty high. In fact, in some cases the judges were begging me for a fourth medal to award.

Many of the judges wanted to take back the products to show their hospitals and try them out, and one or two of the judges already had. What’s exciting about this world is that individuals and companies are always keen to invent something – often quite simple – that can transform lives. We’ll be giving you a full rundown of the products that won after the event right here on, so look out for that in November. With so much innovation, it’s a shame to miss out.

And a word to you budding entrepreneurs out there – always take the advice of nurses and healthcare professionals. It was easy to see the products that had really put the nurse and the patient at the heart of what they were doing, and even easier to spot those that clearly hadn’t thought about the busy nurse on the ward or the patient who would struggle to use a product because of physical or mental challenges.

Just as nurses have to always consider the patients’ needs first, so too do inventors. In just a few sentences, our judging panel of experienced nurses and clinicians could tell a finalist if their product had potential, and it made me appreciate the value of all that wealth of experience.

The judges in my room were, of course, breathing much less fire than on the BBC series. They never resorted to the punchline putdowns of Peter Jones, the scathing sarcasm of Duncan Bannatyne or the raised eyebrows of Deborah Meaden, although they all probably wish they had their bank balances.

Thanks for reading.

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