Companies share businessman's frustrations over failure of NHS to embrace innovation

Significant reaction to last week's BBH article about entrepreneur, Paul Cook's failure to get his bug-busting door handles into the NHS

BBH readers have reacted to news that Paul Cook is finding it difficult to get his bug-busting door handles into NHS facilities

Companies and industry experts have come forward to offer advice and share the frustrations of entrepreneur, Paul Cook, following our recent article about his problems selling his innovative bug-busting door handles to the NHS.

Last week we reported how Steri-Core door handles, made by Cook's company, Titan Healthcare (Antibacterial) Products, could help to stamp out one of the nastiest strains of the vomiting and sickness bug, Norovirus.

However, despite meeting the needs of medical staff, he has so far failed to get his product into UK hospitals, highlighting the ongoing problems manufacturers and suppliers have breaking into the healthcare market.

Cook’s handles not only kill F9 Norovirus, but many other healthcare associated infections, with superior kill times, which were confirmed during tests in the US.

He claims that, if fitted into hospitals, it could prevent the spread of the virus and stop wards from having to be closed and operations cancelled; with the World Health Organization putting the savings from this at £60billion a year.

But, despite meeting with MPs and having taken calls from several international billion-dollar companies, he has failed to get the handles into a single hospital.

He said: “If you think of how much the NHS pays private companies to come in a clean wards when there is an outbreak, it seems only sensible to pay just a few pounds and stop the outbreak from occurring in the first place.

“I have spent my life savings producing a product nurses and infection control leads said they wanted, but I can’t get it to them.

“The whole process and the battle to try and get your products into the NHS has aged me.”

You have NHS England that say one thing – they want to work with any company who can innovate – knowing that this is not true. Then you have the Government who, frankly, do nothing

BBH put Cook in touch with UK Health Gateway, a consultancy that helps with NHS market access and entry. But the article also prompted feedback and support from across the sector.

Following the article, Patrick O’Brien from mobile working specialist, TracLine, told BBH he was having similar difficulties, adding: “I share your frustration.

“I was given a large amount of money by the Government to develop some communications software. It all now works and, like your invention, is ready to go.

“I am afraid the NHS is risk averse.

“There is an organisation called Crown Commercial Services, whose job is to ensure innovation does not get into the NHS.

“You have NHS England that say one thing – they want to work with any company who can innovate – knowing that this is not true. Then you have the Government who, frankly, do nothing.

I share your pain. My business is successful and has been in operation for 30 years. If the red tape changes, life would be great for all concerned.”

Patrick O’Brien from TracLine said other companies share Cook's frustrations, with mixed messages about how companies can access the NHS

And Mark Moran, chief executive of Hydrate for Health, added: "I share the frustrations.

"Preventing dehydration in healthcare would save the NHS billions each year, and yet a low-cost, multiple-award-winning, simple solution is being prevented from availability via prescription because of box ticking."

Others offered their advice from experience working in the market. Rob Blackledge, a customer insight director at Arrow County, offered to give Cook some direction on marketing his product; and Michael Clarke, a former healthcare director at Willmott Dixon, sent further advice.

Clarke said: “To be honest, Paul, like many in his position, has been talking to the wrong people if he has gone through NHS Supply Chain as, by and large, they deal with consumables - from bandages to baked beans.

“While they might look at lightbulbs as they are consumables; they generally don’t deal with the building products which are used in projects.

With their budget constraints, most estates directors are only going to purchase new door handles when they undertake major refurbishments and new build projects

“With their budget constraints, most estates directors are only going to purchase new door handles when they undertake major refurbishments and new build projects.

“I would, therefore, suggest Paul talks to the group at the Department of Health which leads on this, namely the Procure 22 framework team which came into force in October.”

To read last week’s article in full, click here. If you can help further, or share Cook’s frustrations, email jom@hpcimedia.com

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