A company which designed a hygiene product for hospital patients now used worldwide has been named North West NHS Supplier of the Year.
Vernacare, of Bolton, won the Patient Experience Award and then the overall Supplier of the Year Award at the annual NHS in the North West Excellence in Supply Awards, sponsored by the Innovation Agency.
Vernacare worked with Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to develop the first disposable female urinal which prevents urinary infections and improves comfort and dignity for patients.
The product, VernaFem, is being used by 153 NHS trusts plus healthcare facilities in 21 other countries.
The Excellence in Supply Awards celebrate the work of businesses and third sector organisations in the NHS, to improve patient care through collaborations which also lead to better value and efficiency. The annual event is organised by North West Procurement Development, which helps NHS trusts to improve their procurement practices, for the benefit of patients.
Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust Chief Executive Karen Partington said: "We are very proud to have worked with Vernacare to develop the new VernaFem, which provides greater treatment choices for patients, while improving infection prevention and efficiency."
Phil Bradley, UK Commercial Director at Vernacare said: “We are delighted by this double award win, especially to win the top award of Supplier of the Year. As a North West based small business, we have been collaborating with NHS clinicians for more than 50 years to design and develop infection prevention products that are enhancing patient care and improving safety in UK hospitals.
“We are very thankful for the ongoing support of our NHS partners, and are proud to showcase our best of British healthcare innovation around the globe.”
Chair of NHS North West Procurement Development and Chief Executive of event sponsors the Innovation Agency, Dr Liz Mear said: “At a time of increasing pressure on the NHS it is more important than ever to find new ways of working which improve the experience of patients at the same time as reducing demands on services.
“The collaboration of the company with Lancashire Teaching Hospitals in developing VernaFem is a great example of using innovation in procurement, to improve care.”
The Innovation Award, presented by Innovation Agency Chief Operating Officer Lorna Green, was won by Liverpool company Damibu for their app ‘CATCH’ - a Common Approach To Children’s Health – which was developed to meet requirements laid down by NHS Eastern Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) with Cheshire East Council and NHS South Cheshire CCG.
Deputy Director of NHS NW Procurement Development Brian Mangan said: “Our annual awards and conference aims to overcome traditional adversarial relationships between the NHS and suppliers. Our award winners show how partnerships built on trust can create opportunities for innovative ways of working – to the benefit of patients.
“We have seen the event grow from humble beginnings with 60 attendees to our current conference format attracting over 300 delegates from across NHS buyers and suppliers. We are extremely grateful to all finalists for the innovations and contributions they make to patient care across the North West.”
Other winners were:
Karl Storz Endoscopy UK Ltd working with Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust – Acute Hospital Sector Award
Philips, working with Lancashire Teaching Hospitals – Sustainable Development Award
TBS GB, working with Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust - Small Business Award
Language Empire Ltd, Rochdale, working with Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust – Mental Health and Community Award
Deafness Resource Centre, St Helens – Support Services Award
Alexandra Diamond, Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust – Rising Star Award
Dr Darren Kilroy, East Cheshire NHS Trust – Champion Award
The Countess of Chester Hospital Patient Flow System – Innovation Award
The Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust, nominated by Drager – Supplier Engagement Award
The NW Procurement Development team is based at Wrightington Hospital and hosted by Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust