Improving the transfer of critically ill patients

University Hospital Southampton has partnered with Illustrious Healthcare Solutions to develop a Critical Care Transfer Stack (CCTS) designed to improve the internal transfer of critically ill patients within acute healthcare environments.

Engineering design and manufacturing company, Illustrious Healthcare Solutions, explains that the mobile frame attaches to a bed to support life-saving medical devices such as monitors, ventilators, O2 cylinders ,and accessories. These devices are mounted to the vertical aspect of the CCTS for visibility during patient transfer. The CCTS also safely transports cylinder holders, suction units, includes integrated storage areas, and has an integrated power supply unit.

University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust (UHS), one of England’s  largest acute teaching Trusts, explained: “There can be many risks when moving critically ill patients across specialised areas of a hospital. Having urgent care equipment that minimises these risks is paramount when transferring patients to critical care theatres and wards, as well as for transfer by outreach/resus teams. Research by the Intensive Care Society in 2019 found that equipment failure is the most common adverse event during patient transfer.”

Illustrious and UHS say they have developed ‘a life-supporting product which remains robust within a high-stress environment, while meeting the required complex specifications’. It can also be used with many different bed types in a hospital setting.  The two organisations collaborated in co-developing the product in 2021 after the Portsmouth-based engineering company contacted the hospital during the first wave of COVID-19, providing chart trolleys for intensive care units.

The project has seen close collaboration between Illustrious engineers and hospital clinical engineering staff, with the product rigorously tested for effectiveness across the 35 theatres at Southampton General Hospital, as well as in general, cardiac, paediatric and neuroscience intensive care units, and the Emergency Department, with extensive feedback contributing to final development.

The two organisations say the CCTS has ‘met with overwhelmingly positive reviews’ from hospital staff across a wide range of specialties. ‘Effectively creating a mobile ICU platform solution, it provides a unique combination of benefits to fit all critical care transfer needs’. It has a medical device classification (Class 1), is registered with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), and is compliant with the European Medical Device Regulation (MDR).  It also has an integrated power supply unit with a medical grade isolation transformer developed specifically for the device.

The CCTS is reportedly the only product of its type able to interface with different bed types, ‘as the brackets used for the unit are flexible and universal to all bed models’. This allows it to cater for varying ramp gradients without damage when transferring in and out of theatre environments, as well as constrained lift sizes.

UHS said: “Importantly, this device provides for standardisation of intrahospital patient transfer nationwide, allowing all staff to be familiar with the process as they move between NHS sites and other healthcare organisations. The CCTS has a sustainable design that greatly reduces the amount of plastics normally used, and is 98% recyclable. Made from marine grade stainless steel and aluminium, it has an antimicrobial medical grade finish for ease of cleaning and decontamination. Any component repairs can be carried out locally, avoiding the cost of buying a new unit and the cost to our environment.”

Sean Folan, a healthcare scientist who has specialised in critical care for over 15 years in an NHS regional trauma centre, and is co-founder and director of Illustrious Healthcare Solutions, said: “From the outset, UHS has shared its vast expertise with us, and worked closely alongside our engineering design and development team. It has been a privilege to work with UHS, and we are looking forward to sharing the benefits this product brings with others.”

Meanwhile, Peter Baker, Commercial director at UHS, says the CCTS was ‘designed in partnership with the NHS, for the NHS’, and is a much-improved design compared with existing models.  UHS adds: “It offers exceptional value to the NHS and wider marketplace. We hope it is the first of many successful collaborations between UHS and Illustrious Healthcare Solutions.”







Latest Issues