The National Health Service in the UK has launched its first privately-owned company that makes electronic devices for disabled patients.
Odstock Medical, based at Salisbury District Hospital, makes electronic devices that stimulate paralysed muscles, helping disabled patients to walk.
Malcolm Cassels, the Salisbury trust’s finance director says its creation is a landmark in the commercial exploitation of NHS technology for the benefits of patients.
He adds that until now, the NHS has not made good use of its medical inventions. This was either due to lack of corporate support or because devices were licensed to other companies outside of the NHS’s control.
Salisbury trust owns 68% of Odstock Medical and the remainder is shared between a hospital charity and outside shareholders.
Marie Smith, NHS director of technology and product innovation, told the Financial Times that Odstock medical is an “excellent demonstration of what we’re trying to create”, even though she admits not all NHS trusts have the finances to fund spin-off companies.
She adds: “We want the NHS to gain the confidence and the feeling of local empowerment to go ahead with this sort of venture.”
It is estimated that the market for Odstock could be worth 380 million pounds a year in Europe and North America.