University of Bath designer goes to Downing Street

A design engineer from the University of Bath is one of a select few who has been invited to Downing Street today to celebrate his contribution to the NHS.

Simon Halsey is one of nearly 100 people who are recognised in a new book, Extraordinary You – Science in Healthcare, which profiles the pioneering work of healthcare scientists within the NHS, and details their reasons for choosing a career in science to encourage more people to join the profession.

The book is being showcased at a reception in Number 11 Downing Street this evening and will be attended by key healthcare professionals, along with Health Minister Ann Keen and Chief Scientific Officer Professor Sue Hill. 

Simon works for the Bath Institute for Medical Engineering (BIME), a design and development charity working in the fields of medicine, health care and assistive technology for disabled people. 

BIME is managed by the University but based within the Royal United Hospital Bath and works closely with the NHS as well as with a wide range of commercial companies.

The charity bridges the gap between one-off design solutions for individual patients and mass retail, and comes up with and sometimes manufactures, products that are desperately needed but which have a limited market.

The project that has given Simon most satisfaction has been designing a paediatric wheelchair called 'Wizzybug', which is aimed at very young children. In the past, pre-school children have had very limited access to mobility devices, as it was not recognised that they could control powered chairs.

There is also growing evidence that independent mobility is key to a child’s development in these formative years.  It was a considerable design challenge but Wizzybugs are already a big hit with children around the country.

Simon said: “I'm really pleased to have been selected to represent the work design engineers are doing within the NHS.

“The Wizzybug project was a fantastic cross-disciplinary collaboration between key NHS staff, Whizz-Kidz, BIME, the University of Bath, and most importantly the children and parents who are now benefiting from this fun mobility solution.

“I'm looking forward to meeting some of the other people featuring in the book, and of course having a good look around number 11 Downing Street!”

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