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First UK panel is established to study antibacterial properties of silver in hospitals

BioCote : 07 March, 2008  (New Product)
BioCote has set up the UK’s first expert panel to study the antibacterial properties of silver, and further its use in hospitals.
The expert panel is the brainchild of Biocote’s managing director Matthew Harte and marketing manager Tracey Baker, and pools the expertise of leading UK experts, including chair Trevor Payne, estates and facilities director at UCLH Hospital and Martin Kiernan, nurse consultant, Prevention and Control of Infection at Southport and Ormskirk NHS Trust.

The panel will investigate the benefits of using silver further within healthcare environments and then look at means of educating healthcare professionals about the facts about silver.

The panel’s establishment follows a recent pilot study at a Birmingham NHS Trust, where furniture and equipment containing silver were fitted into a refurbished outpatients facility. The panel then tracked the bacteria levels over six months and benchmarked them against a standard, non-treated environment.

At the end of the period, tests found 95.8 percent fewer bacteria in the environment than the facility with no silver-based products, and 92.6 percent fewer bacteria on surfaces.

BioCote has developed a way to incorporate silver, a natural antibacterial agent, into the surfaces of furniture and equipment, and proven it can reduce levels of bacteria by up to 96 per cent in hard-working hospitals.

On contact with silver, bacteria such as MRSA lose their ability to reproduce, and so die. BioCote has incorporated silver into a range of products at the manufacturing stage, including plastics, fabrics, paints, powder coatings, and papers often without charge to the hospital. These are being used by hospitals across the UK to help make environments safer and more hygienic for their patients.

Matthew Harte, a polymer chemist, said: “The Romans discovered that silver purifies water, but they didn’t know how it worked. Today, NASA use it to maintain drinking water in space, and now we are introducing it into UK hospitals.”

“Already, we have products in use in hundreds of hospitals across the country, including University College London Hospital, The Royal Orthopaedic Hospital, Birmingham and Royal Preston Hospital. Products available include cubicle curtains, beds, lockers, doors and blinds from leading manufacturers.”

As well as the saving of lives, there is a financial benefit. Matthew added: “The total cost to a Trust, of a single case of MRSA, is estimated to be as high as 15,500 so the savings could free up millions of pounds to be spent instead on front-line patient services.”

Trevor Payne said: “Silver-based products work in the background, around the clock, to provide an additional level of protection - possibly saving lives.”

“Many hospitals are already specifying products with silver, so when you open a door, or use a hand dryer, it could well have reduced levels of bacteria and a lower risk of cross contamination.”

Neil Manser, founder of anti-superbug charity the National Concern for Healthcare Infections, and who lost his father to MRSA, welcomed the initiative. He said: “Innovation needs to be rewarded Biocote has demonstrated a clear case for this technology to be made standard, and we will be urging this at the highest levels.”

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