Home / Portsmouth Aviation Blog / Innovating the Healthcare Sector with our Critical Care Transfer Stack

Portsmouth Aviation were approached by the University Hospital Southampton, to help innovate the sector. We were specially selected to utilise our expert engineering skills to design and manufacture a bespoke Critical Care Transfer Stack.

At Portsmouth Aviation, we understand the commercial pressures faced by most businesses; with the healthcare sector always feeling the brunt of these. There is always the expectation to do more with less, to find and exploit new efficiencies, and to operate according to increasingly tight schedules. At Portsmouth Aviation we can apply our precision engineering expertise to any industry, offering solutions to many different friction points that may prevent you from excelling; whether that is in the public sector or private sector.

Medical equipment designed and manufactured by Portsmouth Aviation
Pictured above, the Critical Care Transfer Stack, designed and manufactured by Portsmouth Aviation for University Hospital Southampton

Designing A Solution

The number of critically ill people that have needed intensive NHS care over the past year is devastating. Increased illnesses place an increased pressure on healthcare services because unfortunately, resources don’t automatically multiply to serve the demand in need. Services pull together in times of need, and we’re delighted to be one of those services contributing to the current health crisis by developing a crucial piece of patient transfer equipment. We have been briefed by a local NHS organisation to design a bespoke Critical Care Transfer Stack for internal transfer of critically ill patients. 

There are many pieces of medical equipment that are required to transfer critically ill patients; when a patient requires critical care its ‘all systems go’ in a healthcare setting. A patient may need to be transferred to a more suitable ward to receive their treatment, or even to a different hospital for more specialised care. There can be many risks when transferring patients, so having the right equipment to assist transfer is paramount. A crucial piece of medical equipment required for this urgent care is called a Critical Care Transfer Stack, this unit is essentially a mobile frame which mounts onto a bed unit. Its purpose is to support the brackets of life saving medical devices, such as monitors and ventilators. These medical devices are mounted to the vertical aspect of the Critical Care Transfer Stack for visibility during patient transfer. The Critical Care Transfer Stack also needs integrated storage areas, cylinder holders, suction units and crucially, an integrated power supply unit. 

Research by the Intensive Care Society (2019) found equipment failure as the most common adverse event during a patient transfer. This placed immense pressure and importance on the order we had been tasked with; but we rose to the challenge! Our brief was not only to design a product that could meet the standard requirements, but also to design a product that can be used universally with a number of different bed types. Patient beds in healthcare settings vary in terms of dimension and functioning. Healthcare services use multiple manufacturers for their supply of hospital beds, even within single services. This means that there is great variation in the brake positioning, foot pedal controls, and mounting positions for bed ends; requiring an extremely bespoke product design for our Critical Care Transfer Stack.

Critical Care Transfer Stack in action, designed and manufactured by Portsmouth Aviation
Pictured above, designed and manufactured by Portsmouth Aviation, is the Critical Care Transfer Stack. It is already meeting a host of specifications that with further development could be widely accessible on the healthcare market.

Leading With Innovation

We’re not a medical company, we are a manufacturing company and have manufactured products for many different industries. At Portsmouth Aviation, we have more than nine decades of experience providing precision engineering services to clients that operate in remarkably diverse and distinct industries. Our ability to provide these organisations with precision engineered products that meet their exacting demands has resulted in our business becoming one of the most respected and successful precision engineering businesses in the country. This is why we were approached by a local NHS organisation. Our learning about how the product will fit into the industry it will serve demonstrates just how much we invest into learning about our customers specifications for their desired product. 

The current prototype design for our Critical Care Transfer Stack already meets the requirements of 5 bed types – a fantastic achievement already! We have also catered for different ramp gradients for transfers in and out of theatre environments; all whilst adhering to extremely limited lift dimensions. With further development, this product could be made widely accessible to the healthcare market which is such an exciting prospect! 

Our passion for innovation has driven our accomplishments so far with this project. Anything that we can do to support the care of critically ill patients is extremely rewarding and at the heart of our work. Developing such an integral piece of medical equipment with complex specifications is exciting to us. From the very first step in the design process, our engineers have used state-of-the-art technologies to ensure that our product meets our customers’ requirements. Our extensive testing throughout development ensures that the product will meet the specifications for use in a high stress environment.

Investing In Ourselves

The design and production of a Critical Care Transfer Stack that can be used almost universally across multiple size dimensions and environments is a challenging task; but challenge creates opportunity for growth. Growth is what our business is all about; growth in ideas, growth in technology, growth in engineering, and most importantly growth within our in-house team. We know that it’s every single one of our employees that allows our business to strive for new challenges. That’s why we invest in our workforce. As our employees grow and develop new skills, our engineering hits new heights. That’s why this partnership to innovate such critical equipment for the NHS has been trusted with us.

1 Intensive Care Society (2019) Transfer of critically ill adult, [available at https://www.ficm.ac.uk/sites/default/files/transfer_critically_ill_adult_2019.pdf]

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