PAPWORTH-based Health Enterprise East (HEE), the NHS Innovation Hub for the East of England, has been a key player in marketing a pillowcase with a unique design that combines reducing the risk of infection, increasing patient comfort and saving costs.

The Bolton Pillow Case (BPC), invented by a physiologist in Essex, has a surface that can be cleaned in seconds with an antibacterial wipe between patients, eliminating the need for a conventional pillowcase.

It is ideal for use in cardiac departments, ultrasound units, A&E, clinic rooms, care homes and a wide range of other outpatient healthcare settings.

HEE assisted with product prototyping and negotiating the deal to take the pillow into commercial production with Teal Furniture Ltd, part of the Senator International Group and a world-leading producer of hospital furniture for over 25 years. The first orders for the BPC have just been placed.

Inventor Ian Bolton said: "The BPC was designed in response to a major change in working practice to meet current infection prevention procedures, which were proving very time-consuming and adding extra costs.

"Made from the same materials as a conventional clinic couch, it has a flap of material along its top edge which hangs over the top of a couch backrest. Along the far edge of the flap is a row of discreet counter balance weights which stop the pillow from sliding down the backrest.

"This means the BPC can be put into position in around two seconds without any fixings and, very importantly, it stays in place, which is more comfortable for the patient.

"It also takes a lot of conventional pillow cases out of the system saving on laundry, renewal and distribution costs, as well as reducing clinic time in taking off a soiled pillowcase and putting on a clean one. It also lowers the risk of hospital-acquired infections."

INFORMATION: Based at Papworth Hospital, HEE is funded by the NHS East of England, the Department of Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) and East of England Development Agency (EEDA). Since it was established in 2004, HEE has concluded over 75 licences on behalf of NHS Trusts in the East of England. See www.hee.org.uk and www.ideasforhealth.org.uk