Loughborough University
Leicestershire, UK
LE11 3TU
+44 (0)1509 263171
Loughborough University

Enterprise Awards 2013

Social Impact

A sketch drawring of an ambulance car

Better ambulance and equipment design through ergonomics

Loughborough lead academic
Dr Sue Hignett, Design School
Dr Mike Fray, Dr Neil Mansfield, Ian Storer, Design School and Dr Paula Griffiths, School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences

Before 2006 NHS Ambulance Trusts produced their own vehicle specification resulting in over 40 different designs of emergency ambulances in the UK. This presented an increased risk to patient safety as the location of equipment and consumables and interior layout varied in each vehicle.

In 2005 the Department of Health set out a vision for the provision of future ambulance services to increase the range of mobile healthcare services for patients with urgent and emergency care needs. These issues were investigated in nine research projects (2003-2012) funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, DoH and HSE with participation from over 300 clinical/operational staff and 91 patients.

The Loughborough research evaluated the mobility equipment used to get patients in and out of ambulances and in particular the risks to staff and the handling of obese patients. The team also looked at a range of issues relating to ambulance design including layout, securing people and equipment in transit, hygiene and communication.

Further research looked into the development of new paramedic equipment and vehicles to support the delivery of care without transportation to hospital.

Ten years’ research has resulted in significant economic impact through costs savings and improved patient care.

View media coverage related to the Loughborough team's work:

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  • Research has led to national specification to standardise the design of emergency ambulances
  • Six of the eleven NHS Ambulance Trusts in England now purchase the new single specification ambulances
  • New specification has influenced international design, produced national savings in excess of £2.5 million in over three years
  • Design of new paramedic equipment and vehicles will contribute to a reduction in the number of people needing to be transported to A&E and other centres
  • Dr Sue Hignett now sits on the National Ambulance Fleet Strategy Group

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