A RETIRED North-East hospital consultant has helped to design an award-winning resuscitation trolley for newborn babies.

Former Darlington Memorial Hospital consultant obstetrician David Hutchon believes the bedside trolley could save babies’ lives if it becomes a standard piece of equipment in the NHS.

It is already in use at Darlington Memorial Hospital and two other hospitals in the UK.

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The Basics (Bedside Assessment, Stabilisation and Initial Cardiorespiratory Support) Trolley won a Medical Futures Innovation Award in London last night.

The bedside trolley has a built-in resuscitator, water supply and heater.

It allows doctors and nurses to check for vital life-signs while the baby is safely connected to its mother via the umbilical cord.

Currently, if medical staff are concerned about the baby’s breathing they have to cut the umbilical cord in order to move the baby to a resuscitator, usually in the corner of the delivery room.

By leaving the cord in place this should reduce the small number of babies who die because they are starved of oxygen.

The Basics trolley, which won the Best Innovation In Service Redesign in the Cardiovascular Innovation Awards category, was invented by a group of consultants including Dr David Hutchon, his Darlington Memorial Hospital colleague Dr Andrew Gallagher, Dr Andrew Weeks, senior lecturer in obstetrics at Liverpool Women’s Hospital, and Peter Watt, design engineer at the Royal Liverpool University Hospital Trust.

For Dr Hutchon, the trolley represents an important step forward in his decade-long campaign to delay the clamping of umbilical cords.

Recently the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists changed its policy in line with Dr Hutchon’s call and now recommends that it should not be clamped immediately at birth.

Dr Hutchon played a pivotal role in assembling the team who came up with the new trolley design.

He said: “Our aim was to come up with some way of resuscitating babies without clamping the umbilical cord.

When the baby is not breathing doctors tend to clamp the cord far too quickly.

“In the first 20 seconds or so one of the reasons the baby is sometimes not breathing is that they are still getting plenty of oxygen from the placenta through the umbilical cord.”

Dr Hutchon hopes that the design will catch on and Basics trolley will become standard in all UK delivery rooms.