Toolkit too expensive for hospital

PUBLISHED: 19:00 22 December 2001 | UPDATED: 11:04 03 March 2010

A SURGEON who designed a revolutionary "toolkit" to help heal broken bones is unable to use the equipment because his hospital cannot afford to buy it.

A SURGEON who designed a revolutionary "toolkit" to help heal broken bones is unable to use the equipment because his hospital cannot afford to buy it.

Jeffrey Hallett, consultant orthopaedic surgeon at Ipswich Hospital, has been recognised as a "pioneer in patient care" by the British Medical Association for his invention.

The Ipswich Extractor Kit is used to remove the metal "nails" that are inserted inside fractured bones temporarily – the size of which can change depending on which hospital a patient is treated at.

Mr Hallett said: "It is not too difficult to put the nails in - you just hammer them - but when you try to get them out it is not so easy.

"There may be 20 different sizes of thread used in different hospitals around the world and in Britain and what we have done is to make a set of sockets that can screw any of the nails out."

The kit costs around £10,000, a price that bosses at Ipswich Hospital have said they cannot afford because they do not perform enough of that type of orthopaedic surgery.

Mr Hallett, who has been at Ipswich Hospital since September 1983, said: "The budget at the hospital is prioritised. At Ipswich we are not removing large numbers of these nails and the ones that we do tend to have been put in ourselves, so we have the right equipment already."

He had the idea for the kit 12 years ago when he began working as a technical committee chairman for the British Standards Institute (BSI) and realised the effect using different sizes of nails sometimes had on patients.

"Quite often we would hear about patients having an operation to remove a nail that has been put in by surgeons in a different part of the country and the operation has had to stop because they have not got the right equipment.

"I put the idea to a company called New Splint Plc and they have been marketing it for the last seven years and we are developing it all the time," he said.

Mr Hallett added that if Ipswich Hospital decide to change their mind about the kit in the future, he would forego the few hundred pounds he receives as a royalty on every one sold and would try and arrange a deal with New Splint Plc to save the hospital money.

"I am quite happy to waive my royalty on one of the kits for Ipswich and the company might do something similar but there is still a lot of money needed to fund other things that are needed at the hospital."

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