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8 January 2021updated 09 Sep 2021 11:08am

A new start: The promise of 2021

Collaboration will be crucial in the coming year for healthcare.

By Nick Rothwell

This time last year, few people would have predicted the global health challenges that we were to face, overcome and continue to confront. Despite the many difficulties, I believe there is much hope and promise, not only from the way healthcare professionals (HCPs) have risen to the challenge of the Covid-19 pandemic, but also from how the health system itself has responded to these unprecedented times. 

I am proud of the way Mölnlycke’s UK surgical business responded to the Covid-19 crisis. Under difficult circumstances and unparalleled challenges to our supply chains, we delivered significant new volumes of high-quality personal protective equipment (PPE), dedicated our time and expertise to hospitals and created resources to support care delivery in the NHS. The response of the whole healthcare system to the pandemic shows promise for the ways in which, together, we will tackle the challenges of the year ahead. 

Quality protection

Locking down countries across the world placed significant pressure on many global supply chains. Throughout the past year, colleagues across our business have worked tirelessly to ensure the continuity of the supply of high-quality PPE to healthcare professionals. We were delighted to receive recognition from the health secretary for our role in ensuring doctors, nurses and supportive staff received the highest-quality PPE.   

Delivering the equipment is, however, just one half of the challenge. As a partner with the NHS, we also need to ensure that healthcare professionals are provided with equipment that works for them. In 2020, Mölnlycke launched two landmark surveys that highlighted not only the high proportion of sharps injuries reported to occupational health professionals but also the significant rates of irritant and allergic contact dermatitis experienced by HCPs in their day-to-day professional lives. Quality protection is at the heart of everything we do at Mölnlycke, and we look forward to playing our part in ensuring that the very best safety techniques are encouraged and adopted across the health system.

Time to Act

One of the effects of Covid-19 was the spotlight it shone on the vital role of infection prevention within our health and care system. As a business, we have campaigned for many years to encourage stakeholders across the system to prioritise the reduction of all forms of healthcare-associated infections.

We know that the impact of surgical site infections (SSIs) on patients can be devastating, and their costs to the NHS are significant. Much more needs to be done to reduce the risk of SSIs, and our landmark report, released last month, Time to Act: A State of the Nation Report on Surgical Site Infections in the UK, continues Mölnlycke’s efforts to tackle the challenge of SSIs. On 20 January, we will be hosting a round-table webinar in conjunction with the Association for Perioperative Practice to provide a forum for leaders across the health system to discuss how we can all act to improve infection prevention initiatives in the NHS. 

Reducing the elective backlog

As we look to the year ahead, a further key challenge facing the NHS is supporting hospital trusts to reduce the backlog in elective care. The health system is under considerable pressure, and we know that more than a million patients across the country are waiting more than the 18-week target for treatment following their referral. The industry has a role to play to ensure that the NHS is able to safely treat as many patients as possible when capacity in operating theatres begins to return to normal. 

With this in mind, this year Mölnlycke will be launching an operating theatre efficiencies programme to provide surgical teams with the industry-leading equipment, the tools and the knowledge needed to make those theatres one of the most efficient areas of the hospital. 

A new start

In spite of the challenges we face as a country, which are reflected in every health system around the world, we can be reassured that the people of the UK are supported by the very best caregivers and healthcare professionals. Together, we need to ensure that we provide them with the best tools, frameworks and practices, to care for them, as they do for all of us – whether that is through ensuring that the very best surgical safety techniques are adopted and implemented “from the board to the ward” or ensuring that the requirements for the optimum equipment for HCPs are prioritised in procurement decisions. I am hopeful that when we again reflect on the end of another year in January 2022, the NHS will be in an even stronger position. 

Nick Rothwell is general manager of Mölnlycke UK&I

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