Press release

New designs help to combat bugs in hospitals

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Four new bedside furniture designs to reduce healthcare associated infections were made available today for the NHS

Four new bedside furniture designs to reduce healthcare associated infections were made available today for the NHS to purchase after testing showed positive patient and staff feedback.

Trialled on wards in eight hospitals across England, the new designs for a patient chair, bedside cabinet, over-bed table and a commode proved easier and quicker to clean, and will further help in the fight to reduce healthcare associated infections (HCAIs) such as MRSA, C. difficile and MSSA.

The Design Bugs Out project - a partnership between the Department of Health and the Design Council - brought together clinical specialists, patients and frontline hospital staff with designers and manufacturers to produce furniture designs that are not only easier and quicker to clean but functional and comfortable and at a comparable price.

Hospital furniture design has not been assessed for many years, or been so thoroughly evaluated. The ergonomically sound, robust and sustainable designs are the first to be tested by an independent laboratory for cleanability in comparison to existing hospital furniture, as well as user-friendliness by ward staff, patients and visitors. The four pieces proved to be easier to clean after undergoing rigorous assessments that replicated routine hospital cleaning procedures of typically contaminated hospital furniture.

Health Minister Simon Burns said:

“Cleanliness is vital in preventing healthcare associated infections. The NHS has already made significant reductions of MRSA bloodstream infections and C. difficile, but there is still room for further progress.

“These four innovative and user-friendly furniture designs - now available for hospitals to buy - provide additional ways to help to reduce these infections. They will make it easier for staff to keep wards cleaner and help combat the spread of infections. This means keeping patients healthier, as well as saving the NHS money in the long term.”

The evaluation feedback showed positive reactions from both patients and staff for all four products - with patient acceptability ratings proving high:

• Patient chair - 91 per cent found the chair clean, comfortable, safe and supportive
• Bedside cabinet - 77 per cent thought that the new cabinet was sturdy and durable and looked good
• Overbed table - 91 per cent were in favour of the new design.
• Commode - 90 per cent thought the commode looked good and they liked it

David Kester, Chief Executive of the Design Council, said:

“This is a great example of how design can find innovative new ways of tackling tricky problems and helping public services do better, for less. But it’s also a business success story - this project has generated valuable orders, created new markets and helped safeguard jobs.

“Helping manufacturers work closely with designers and healthcare staff to develop these new product innovations has delivered a win-win for patients, staff and local economies.”  

The new designs were tested in eight showcase hospitals across England:

• Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust
• Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
• County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust
• Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust
• Lewisham Healthcare NHS Trust
• Mid Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust
• Southampton University Hospitals NHS Trust
• The Royal Wolverhampton Hospitals NHS Trust

Cheryl Etches, Chief Nursing Officer at Royal Wolverhampton Hospitals said:

“This was a fantastic opportunity to influence the design and manufacturing process of these commonly used pieces of health care equipment. These haven’t changed greatly in design for many years and, for this reason, this equipment has always been difficult to clean.

“Having this equipment on the wards makes the patient’s bedside environment easier to clean - which is beneficial for patients and staff.”

The report published today of the evaluation is intended to assist the NHS in making informed decisions about purchasing the four Design Bugs Out products, which are now all available in the NHS Supply Chain catalogue online.

You can view the four designs on the Design Council Flickr stream.


Notes to Editors

1. The evaluation can be found on the Department of Health website.

2. For more information please contact the Department of Health press office newdesk on 0207 210 5221.

3. High resolution images of the products are available - please contact the Design Council press office on 0207 420 5263.

Bedside cabinet


Over-bed table

Patient chair