A Birmingham manufacturing company has been shortlisted for a prestigious Lord Stafford Award after securing £650,000 of new orders for its surgical curtain hook.
Opal Contracts, based in Small Heath, manufactures traditional blinds, curtain tracks and security systems, but decided to move into the healthcare sector after seeing a gap in the market.
The Hospital Curtain Hook means disposable curtains can be used on the existing curtain rail of the type used in NHS hospitals across the country to separate beds on wards.
The unique aspect of the hook is that it enables the use of disposable curtains, meaning less handling, no laundry and a significant reduction in the risk of hospital-based infections. It is also faster to change than existing products.
Working with Coventry University’s Health Design and Technology Institute and the Manufacturing Advisory Service – West Midlands, the product has been prototyped, tested and is now on the market.
The new product – already in use with the Plymouth NHS Trust, Birmingham Heartlands, Solihull Hospital and Good Hope Hospital – has earned the company a shortlisting for the prestigious Lord Stafford Awards for Innovation.
Set up to showcase the very best of collaboration between universities and businesses, Opal Contracts is represented in the Achievement in Innovation category, which will be announced at an awards event at Worcester Cathedral on November 13.
Director Gary Moore said: “The idea developed a few years ago as a result of the work we were doing in the commercial blinds industry. Because of the problems the NHS has been having with hospital acquired infection through ‘superbugs’ such as MRSA, hygiene has become even more vital.
“The curtains surrounding each individual patient bed can be particularly susceptible to contamination and, as such, need to be regularly changed.
“Our innovation means that the process becomes much faster and easier to manage meaning the spread of infection is controlled.”
Patron of the Awards, Lord Stafford, said: “This is a tremendous example of where a manufacturing company and a university have collaborated together to bring to life a product that could have an obvious benefit to society.
“I am delighted to note that it has already secured a healthy order from the NHS and is in the process of tendering for more.”
Established in 2005 by Maurice Laydon and Gary Moore, Opal Contracts has seen sales soar past the £1?million mark for the first time in its history.
It has added three people to the 13-strong workforce and created employment with a local logistics firm and with mental health charity BITA Pathways, who helps with the assembly of the curtain hooks.