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Giving a sample becomes easy peezy

PUBLISHED: 07:46 16 April 2009 | UPDATED: 08:57 06 July 2010

Gorleston GP Dr Vincent Forte with his Peezy

Gorleston GP Dr Vincent Forte with his Peezy

It was a frustrated female patient who gave GP Vincent Forte his big idea.

Having been asked to give a urine sample in the traditional, narrow plastic pot, she returned and said: "This must have been invented by a man! It was hard to fill and I made a mess - there must be a better idea.

It was a frustrated female patient who gave GP Vincent Forte his big idea.

Having been asked to give a urine sample in the traditional, narrow plastic pot, she returned and said: “This must have been invented by a man! It was hard to fill and I made a mess - there must be a better idea.”

Dr Forte, 47, who works at Central Surgery in Gorleston, was then working at the London Road South surgery in Lowestoft. He went home and spent some time cutting up bits of paper and sticking them together into funnel shapes. He found a design that worked, put it in the drawer and forgot about it.

That was back in 2000 - and now his invention, called Peezy has been nominated for an East of England Health and Social Care award. It recently won Best in Show at the Design Week awards, beating Apple's MacBook Air and also winning its Industrial Design category.

The Yarmouth practice-based commissioning consortium, which is a group of local GPs, have become the first NHS body to buy Peezy, which means Dr Forte's own patients can benefit from it. Interest has been shown in other countries, and trials are being done in Holland and Ireland.

Dr Forte said: “I am still sort of reeling, thinking did I do all this? It was just an idea. The biggest hit I get is giving it to my patients. They come back and say it was brilliant - and I invented it. You cannot get more job satisfaction than that.”

It has been a slow process, including many fruitless attempts to create a flushable Peezy, which was difficult to design and was not popular with buyers. Dr Forte had to remortgage his house for an extra £100,000 in order to fund the creation of the project, which has also had backing from other investors.

He said: “Even if it never makes a cent, just to know it works and I have made life easier for my female patients is worth it.”

As well as being easier to use, the Peezy automatically collects “mid-stream urine”, as the first burst of urine is more likely to be contaminated, which causes problems for bacteria testing in the laboratory. It costs £1.69, with discounts for larger orders, but could save the NHS money by reducing the need for retests. It is also designed to improve hygiene in surgeries and hospitals by reducing the risk of urine splashing on the floor.

Karen Jennings, national secretary for health workers at trade union Unison, said: “Peezy is quite simply ingenious. Women needing to give a wee sample no longer have to perform the impossible in giving a urine specimen because it does what it says, bringing dignity to the act of giving a urine sample. Every woman I know thinks it's brilliant.”

The Health and Social Care Awards are run in partnership by the Department of Health and the NHS Institute for Innovation.

Also nominated is Norfolk and Waveney Mental Health Trust for the Sotterley Care Farm, near Beccles, in the mental health and wellbeing category, and NHS Norfolk for its efforts to go green, in the low carbon category. They will be invited to the regional awards ceremony on May 20, with regional winners then being put forward for the national awards July.

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