A NEW potentially life-saving mattress designed by a Hampshire hospital fire safety officer could soon be rolled out across the NHS.

Steve Tremarco, fire safety officer at Winchester, Basingstoke and Andover hospitals, came up with the idea for a mattress with in-built safety features.

It means patients can be strapped to their mattresses and dragged to safety in the event of a fire without being moved to other equipment.

This makes evacuation quicker and saves the trust money and space needed to buy and store special chairs to transfer patients. Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the Royal Hampshire County Hospital, Andover War Memorial Hospital and Basingstoke hospital, is now applying for a patent for the mattress.

The fire at the RHCH last December saw dozens of patients having to be evacuated as a blaze ripped through the MRI scanner unit.

Mr Tremarco collaborated with hospital suppliers Direct Healthcare Services to test different prototypes and bring the mattress to production.

He even negotiated a deal to get Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust a share of the profits from the sale of each Dyna-Form Mercury Fire Evacuation mattress to other healthcare organisations. Health chiefs say the proceeds will be re-invested in local healthcare services.

The new mattresses, which cost about £195 each – just £35 more than a standard mattress - have already been purchased for 800 beds across Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Mr Tremarco said: “It was a lot of work for 12 months but it is brilliant to see the finished product and how well received it has been.

“Patients find the mattresses are comfortable, They can’t feel the straps, they fit the beds and are easy to use.”

Hampshire Hospitals chief nurse Donna Green said: "We are very excited about this new mattress, which could have significant cost and safety benefits for healthcare organisations across the world. “We are grateful to many people who have helped and supported with the project but the star of the show has to be Steve who had the original idea and has followed through with Direct Healthcare Services to make it a reality."

Mr Tremarco received a WOW! Award for innovation at the launch of the mattress from the trust’s council of governors.