Friends for over 30 years, George McCarthy and Ged Murphy invented the U-drain system after George’s experiences recuperating from colon cancer. While in The Christie NHS Foundation Trust, following surgery that left him with a colostomy and a urostomy, George was told had no choice but to use a night drainage bags or bottles.
On returning home, he found that the reality of these meant urine spills, an unpleasant odour in his bedroom, and the unenviable task of moving, emptying and cleaning heavy bags every morning. Working in their spare time, the pair developed a more dignified, hygienic system called U-drain, that would make life easier for patients, and have financial benefits for the health service.
U-drain consists of a simple wall socket positioned which patients connect their urostomy pouch to via a long tube before going to bed. Urine then flows away throughout the night, into the household waste system.
The technology impressed many clinicians, who advised George and Ged to look into the field of Chronic Kidney Disease, and focus on Automated Peritoneal Dialysis. This involves disposing of two 15-litre plastic bags every day, a practice which can cause injury, as well being expensive and environmentally damaging.
“U-drain is safer for patients, nurses and carers,” explains Ged. “It also realises NHS cash savings of 60%, and reduces carbon emissions, water usage and plastic waste by 99%.”
The system was trialled at both Salford Royal and North Cumbria hospitals, with feedback showing that nurses were saving up to 20 minutes per patient visit, while also offering a more cost-effective means of fluid disposal that significantly reduced annual costs. As a result, 100% of patient and staff respondents said they would recommend the system to other patient.
This led to the U-drain being installed in assisted living and extra care developments across the UK. But the next step was finding support to help them market the product to the NHS and navigating a complex procurement process.
George and Ged attended STEP INto Healthcare, an expert programme run by GC Business Growth Hub, TRUSTECH and Health Innovation Manchester which helps SMEs increase their chances of commercial success in the life sciences market by preparing them for pitching to the NHS.
“STEP INto Healthcare allowed us to get the very best professional advice from health and care leaders in Greater Manchester,” says Ged. “SMEs have really limited opportunities to present their offer to NHS heads of procurement, so being able to meet specialists and learn about the opportunities and obstacles was invaluable.”
Since completing the programme, U-drain has seen a significant increase in the number of NHS dialysis units adopting its product. And with users of the system reporting a reduction in urinary tract infections, which costs the NHS around £2,300 per patient to treat, the cost savings could be considerable.
The STEP INto Healthcare programme will help you improve your pitch to potential investors and customers, and increase your chances of success in the life sciences market.