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Accora designs and produces emergency beds for NHS in five days

Accora directors Richard Smith and Laurie Drake with the company's medical-grade emergency bed. Picture: Tom Norris
Accora directors Richard Smith and Laurie Drake with the company's medical-grade emergency bed. Picture: Tom Norris

Assistive care equipment manufacturer Accora has designed, developed and put into production an emergency medical bed, which will enable coronavirus patients to be in a hospital setting as bed capacity in NHS hospitals becomes over-stretched.

“We designed the special treatment bed in 36 hours and have set up all the logistics to manufacture at short notice to be able to respond to the national health emergency,” director Laurie Drake tells the Cambridge Independent.

“We have the capacity for immediate manufacture of 5,000 beds per week, scaling to 10,000 per week by the end of April. Access to 300 trucks for distribution and warehousing to store up to 30,000 beds has also been set up.

“We have also secured priority on UK steel production, with 4,000 tonnes ready for fabrication. And we’ve done all this in the space of five days.”

To meet hospital standards the beds need to have detachable headrests (for access in case of cardiac arrest), plus the end needs to be able to be lifted up to support legs, and sidebars because many of those in hospital will be elderly and may be liable to falling out of bed, especially if they are suffering with dementia.

“It’s a very quick fabrication process,” Laurie says. “The bed is very quick to deploy and has all the basic functions for a clinical illness, which includes an elevated back rest. It also has room for CPR – cardiopulmonary resuscitation –procedures, and side rails. People with coronavirus tend to be older so the side rails are important.”

At the time of going to press 10 beds have been made, and the Orwell-based company has started making them with partitions for use in temporary hospital settings.

These settings are likely to become necessary because the NHS has around 130,000 beds in the UK and Covid-19 sufferers are likely to dwarf that number.

“We’re putting up partitions, because possibly these beds will be used in military bases,” adds Laurie. He estimates that half of those who have coronavirus will “need care at home or in a non-ICU setting” – ICU refers to intensive care units.

It is possible that hotels – which have been left off the list of public facilities which must be closed – as well as military bases may be options for emergency bed settings. Wyboston Lakes Resort is among those in talks with the NHS about using their facilities for convalescing patients.

Orders for the UK-made bed are coming through fast, including from overseas governments.

“The Australian government is interested in this low-spec, highly functional product,” says Laurie.

“Current care beds are made from parts sourced in Poland, Italy, Denmark and China. A number of orders have already been received, including from the NHS, due for delivery first week in April and that we are in discussion with Ireland. We’re working with another company to set up an emergency ward, so we’re already expanding beyond an emergency bed situation.”

Accora was incorporated in 2008. The company operates in the healthcare marketplace, creating and realising products for clinicians and care providers. It has already worked with the government to deliver ventilators for coronavirus sufferers.

“We are doing all we can to try and play our part,” concludes Laurie. “There is a social responsibility on us all to make a difference where we can and hopefully together, we will all come out of this stronger.”

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