Kingston Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and the Kingston Hospital Charity are constructing a new digital clinical design and manufacturing facility within the trust’s Princess Alexandra Wing.
The facility will be completed in March and will help Kingston Hospital to provide “onsite digital customised anatomical models and medical devices, using 3D biomedical design and printing.” Once it is up and running, the trust say that patients will receive “more efficient care, with better outcomes, underpinned by a custom-built technology system.”
At present, children waiting for a replacement hearing aid may currently wait for months, the trust said. The new service will be able to manufacture a hearing aid ear-mould “using an impression that has been virtually stored in less than 24 hours”, which can then be sent to the child by post.
Similarly, whilst patients requiring orthodontic retainers currently wait one to two weeks, the new technology will see patients receiving their retainers on the same day. The trust hope that this will reduce discomfort experienced by patients at first use, and enable them to attend a single appointment instead of two.
For patients with complex broken bones or fractures requiring surgery, the facility will enable three-dimensional printed custom models to be made, enabling the surgeon to plan their approach and orientation of surgical fixation screws.
Dr Chris Donaldson, leading the project, commented: “This new facility brings 3D technology to a healthcare setting, as these techniques will become essential tools in the NHS of the future. In time we hope to be able to print in medical grade titanium and ultimately to print bio-scaffolds for the construction of replacement body-parts. It is fantastic that Kingston Hospital Charity has recognised its potential and has agreed to fund the development of this digital clinical design and manufacturing facility.”