Wales' Minister for Health and Social Services, Mark Drakeford AM and Deputy Minister for Health, Vaughan Gething AM, have visited Cardiff Met, where they were hosted by the PDR (The National Centre for Product Design and Development Research) team and Morriston Hospital surgeons.
Last week's visit was in order for them to see first-hand the PDR projects that have been funded by Welsh Government's Health Technologies and Telehealth Fund (HTTF).
This is a three-year funding package of £25m which was launched in January 2013. From the original funding package £5m was earmarked for primary care with an additional £4.5m for telehealth identified in the budget, leading to the creation of the one-year, £9.5m Health Technology and Telehealth Fund.
PDR's Surgical & Prosthetic Design team have worked in collaboration with NHS Wales since 1998, pioneering the application of design and advanced manufacturing technologies to improve clinical outcome.
PDR's HTTF-funded project will improve access to the latest advanced digital technologies for healthcare in Wales - the benefits of which are currently enjoyed only by select departments in the biggest centres. The project will introduce technologies that can capture 3D photos of patients; facilitate access to unique expertise for the digital design of custom fitting devices and enable low-cost access to state-of-the-art 3D printing to fabricate those devices. This will have particular benefit to those who prescribe custom-fitting devices worn by patients for long periods.
Technologies available through the project are currently being used in the areas of maxillofacial and trauma surgery, prosthetics, lymphedema, burns and cleft. PDR also want to encourage further medical specialists who prescribe custom medical devices to get involved and will be hosting a series of open evenings in early 2015 to showcase the possibilities.
Minister for Health and Social Services, Mark Drakeford AM said: "The cutting edge work carried out here at PDR is fascinating to see first-hand. This latest HTTF funding will enable the centre to continue to push boundaries within this field to both reduce costs and improve patient outcomes."
Dr. Dominic Eggbeer, Unit Manager of Surgical & Prosthetic Design introduced the Ministers to Prof. Ian Pallister, a Trauma & Orthopaedic Surgeon at Morriston Hospital and Peter Evans, Reconstructive Scientist of the Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board.
Prof. Pallister has worked with PDR for many years and has recently used the new technologies to help produce a high fidelity trauma model funded by the Centre for Defence Enterprise. Mr Evans is part of Morriston Hospital's Maxillofacial Unit, which is using the HTTF project to better assess cleft cases and improve the production of burns splints, surgical guides and prostheses.
Dr. Eggbeer said: "This project is a fantastic opportunity for a broad range of medical specialties to engage with the latest design and fabrication technologies that can improve patient outcomes whilst improving efficiency. We can offer cost-price access and work with project partners to implement the technologies effectively."
Also present to welcome the visitors were PDR's Sean Peel, Business Development Design Engineer – Surgery & Prosthetics and Ffion O'Malley, Academic Associate, Surgical & Prosthetic Design.
Further details on the HTTF project run by PDR can be found at www.cartis.org/astn