Innovation & Entrepreneurship

Innovation & Entrepreneurship

The fight against infection: why are we needlessly lagging behind the rest of the world?



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Bill Passmore, Chief Executive Officer of Finsen Technologies, wonders why we continue to use failed processes to prevent infection when – by 2050 – infection deaths will hit a staggering ten million per year. What’s worse is that we already have the technology to act, as he explains

The shocking reality is that, in just thirty years’ time, infections will kill more people each year than cancer and diabetes combined. Some positive steps have been taken – the NHS is feverishly searching for alternatives to antibiotics, as well as trying to develop new, superior medicines. However, the truth is that although all the right noises are made, a trick is being missed by steadfastly refusing to adopt new technology that will reduce the bio-burden; choosing to cling onto old, and in some cases flawed, processes.

No time to waste

Here are some simple, stark facts:

  • Experts are warning that routine hospital operations could soon become too dangerous to undertake
  • Experts fear the antibiotic crisis is getting worse, with growing concerns that the drugs are losing their effect
  • 50 per cent of surfaces that should be cleaned by hand are missed
  • Despite drives to reduce prescription rates, British doctors are still doling out twice as many antibiotics as some of their European counterparts
  • No new antibiotic classes have been developed for decades, and research is declining because it is not profitable for pharmaceutical firms
  • Cancer patients often depend on antimicrobial protection while their immune systems are weakened by chemotherapy
  • The report warns that patients may soon face agonising decisions over whether or not to have cancer treatment or surgery because risk of death through microbial infection may outweigh the benefits of treatment
  • Drug-resistant bugs are deemed responsible for 5,000 deaths a year in the UK.

Road traffic accidents do not kill as many people each year – if they did there would be a public outcry. However, there is an outcry by patient safety organisations, NHS staff, nurses and doctors, but this cry is stifled within the NHS by the concept that the NHS has no money. How is it that the NHS has no capital for a £35,000 piece of equipment, yet chooses to rent it for £10,000 per month?

The NHS states that it wants innovation to improve healthcare, however it spends millions from fast-ebbing funds to look after ageing equipment, a money-wasting process I can liken only to the risks and costs of maintaining an old banger, rather than leasing a brand new model.

‘Surely this can’t be happening?’ I hear you say, but the poor adoption of new technology in the NHS has also been highlighted across the media, notably with an inventory of ageing X-ray equipment, some of which dates back to the 1980s. This is an institution that still has 12,000 fax machines in use, which all need an annual safety check, and which consume reams of paper, at a time in which our environment is crying out for sustainable alternatives. This is outdated technology, arguably needless in a digital age in which an email can reach its destination in seconds – when did you last send a fax? I haven’t done so for nearly two decades.

It’s time to stop talking about new technologies and to start deploying – we need to challenge the old mantra of ‘we’ve always done it like this’. Surely that alone is more than enough reason to embrace change ­– to do something new and innovative.

Bill Passmore

The loss of modern medicine

A report by the House of Commons’ Health and Social Care Select Committee Inquiry says the Government has not done enough to combat antimicrobial resistance, and that it must make it ‘a top-five policy priority’. Professor Dame Sally Davies, England’s Chief Medical Officer, told the Inquiry that failing to do so would mean ‘modern medicine is lost’. Experts have warned that routine hospital operations could become too dangerous if common medications become ineffective. They fear the antibiotic crisis is getting worse, with growing concerns that the drugs are losing their effect and can no longer treat many infections.

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In this next article, McKinsey & Co’s Thomas Nilsson and Benedict Sheppard speak with three leaders about how the discipline is improving medical products and driving innovation.

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It should be noted that the battle against antimicrobial resistance is not just about antibiotics. There are smart technologies available now at very reasonable cost – or, to save NHS capital, a fee per use – that will address and reduce the unrelenting march of the antimicrobial resistant pathogens.

At Finsen Technologies, we have dedicated our careers and significant research monies to bringing better, affordable healthcare to providers – to the doctors and nurses who take care of us. We have second-to-none technical and commercial expertise and have developed new technologies that reduce antimicrobial resistance. These technologies consistently, continually, and quickly reduce bio burden, improving the environment in which we perform procedures, caring for people at up to half the price of alternatives.

Ready to help

Finsen has UVC technologies that have been proven, via independent third-party testing, to be faster, more cost-effective, and more powerful than other technologies, and which can scan and measure environments, deliver auditable reports, reduce effort, and eliminate human error. We have achieved exponential growth over the past two years and are now providing equipment to 20 countries, with technology being adopted at government level.

In May, we were contacted by a hospital in the Netherlands, which urgently needed to contain an outbreak. We had units on their wards within 24 hours, curtailing the outbreak. The hospital subsequently purchased extra units and are proactively decontaminating 15 to 16 rooms per day, rather than waiting for infections to occur. Hungary, which has also adopted a ‘prevention is better than cure’ approach, adopts daily use of UVC as a proactive protection against pathogens, with each hospital in the country acquiring multiple units.

Finsen Technologies is a British company, offering great British service and technology to the world. Finsen won the British Chambers of Commerce Global Exporter of the Year 2018 award, yet the irony remains – our beloved NHS continues to ‘do what it has always done’, while the rest of the world adopts new, cheaper, more effective technologies. Our NHS needs to act now, working with us to save lives, prevent suffering, save time, and save money. The medical technology arena in which Finsen Technologies operates is a resource needed by the NHS and other healthcare systems around the world. We’re ready to help, and ready to act.

About the author

Journalist and editor Kathryn Reilly has worked in consumer, contract and medical writing for more than 20 years.

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