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Patient Carry Chair

Ambulance carry chair

ID3: Develop the Opportunity

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Executive Summary

Transporting the patient from the incident site to the Ambulance has been identified as a major cause of musculoskeletal injury (MSI) in ambulance paramedics. Exisitng carry chairs require significant manual handling capabilities to facilitate transfer of the patient. In response to this validated unmet need, the NIC launched a competition to develop a new Patient Carry Chair solution.

Quick Detail

Innovation Owner:
Robert Chesters
Development stage:
ID3: Develop the Opportunity

Project Detail

Unmet needs

The carry chair is one of the most frequently deployed patient handling devices used by Ambulance Paramedics. A study by Birtles and Boocock in 2003 found that the carry chair was reported to be used for 38% of all patient transfers. This was higher than the use of the standard ambulance stretcher or any other carrying device. The ambulance profession is considered to be a high risk occupation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). A report commissioned by the HSE (1) in 2005 explored a number of health and safety risks. The report found that the incidence of musculoskeletal injury (MSI) resulting from manual handling of patients occurs at a rate of 178 per 1000 employed. This represents an 18% risk of musculoskeletal injury.

A report published by the National Audit Office (2)  in 2003 quantifies some of the costs associated with MSD and makes particular reference to London Ambulance Service. An independent Manual Handling Audit commissioned by London Ambulance Service estimated the annual cost of MSD to be around £4 million based on occupational sick pay, injury allowances, early pension payments, recruitment of replacement staff and legal claims.

(1) Evaluation of manual handling tasks involving the use of carry chairs by UK ambulance personnel, HSE (2005)

(2) A Safer Place to Work - Improving the management of health and safety risks to staff in NHS trusts, National Audit Office (2003)

Proposed solution

The competition to develop the solution was won by Canard design with support from Hayles, a Paramedic from West Midlands Ambulance Service. The design team focussed on developing a solution which would minimise the need for lifting the patient off the floor. After a number of design iterations a final proof of concept prototype was developed with the following functions:

  1. Ability to lift the patient from a horizontal position (from the floor) into a seated position
  2. Lifting is achieved without paramedic effort through a pneumatic and electric powered system
  3. Design of folding back rest, seat and foot rest allows the paramedic to log roll the patient onto the unit with minimal effort
  4. Detachable skid allows the unit to be moved down stairs

The proof of concept prototype is undergoing extensive tests prior to further development.

Intended benefits

The prototype demonstrates the following benefits:

  1. Reduces the number of transfer steps to get the patient in a seated position from 4 to 2
  2. Reduction in the risk of MSI for Paramedic users
  3. Reduction in pain and discomfort for the patient
  4. Safer and quicker transportation of the patient into the ambulance

Key Facts


  • Patient experience
  • Service quality
  • Service efficiency/productivity
  • Operational costs

Healthcare Areas

  • Acute Care
  • Social Care

Health Problems

  • Cardiovascular (inc Stroke)
  • Trauma and Orthopaedics
  • Respiratory


  • Domestic