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Medical equipment producer celebrates 80 years of saving lives

PUBLISHED: 12:52 15 October 2019 | UPDATED: 12:52 15 October 2019

Employees from Siemens Healthineers celebrate 80 years of healthcare equipment production at the Mill Hotel in Sudbury

Employees from Siemens Healthineers celebrate 80 years of healthcare equipment production at the Mill Hotel in Sudbury

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Sudbury medical diagnostics firm Siemens Healthineers recently marked a significant milestone with a party for employees, past and present.

Employees from Siemens Healthineers celebrate 80 years of healthcare equipment production at the Mill Hotel in SudburyEmployees from Siemens Healthineers celebrate 80 years of healthcare equipment production at the Mill Hotel in Sudbury

More than 300 employees past and present have celebrated 80 years of producing leading-edge health care products in west Suffolk.

The party was hosted by Siemens Healthineers, which designs and assembles blood, urine and diabetes analysis instruments at a number of sites on the Chilton Industrial Estate in Sudbury.

The company is the latest in a line of firms that have led the way in the production of diagnostic machines in the area. The business was originally founded as Evans Electroselenium in 1939 before it was sold to Corning Glass Works in 1970. Since then, the operation has had numerous guises, including Ciba Geigy and Bayer Diagnostics, before being bought by Siemens in 2007.

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Managing director Ali Burns with Todd Jackson VP of Operations  Pictures: Sean GarrettManaging director Ali Burns with Todd Jackson VP of Operations Pictures: Sean Garrett

Recognition

The site's managing director Ali Burns said the celebration, which was held on a sun-splashed roof terrace at Sudbury's Mill Hotel last month, was a chance to reflect on the past and to highlight the skills that currently exist in the area today.

"When we realised that we were approaching the 80th anniversary, I decided we needed to celebrate it in some way," said Mr Burns.

"It's a massive achievement and a recognition of the businesses and people who have come before us. At the same time, we are also recognising the depth of talent that exists in the UK's technology and R&D market."

From the Sudbury sites, the equipment is shipped to destinations worldwide. They include Siemens Healthineers' range of RAPID machines, which carry out blood gas tests, measuring the amount of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood and determining its pH level. These measurements can highlight potential health issues and help doctors with diagnoses.

Employees from Siemens Healthineers celebrate 80 years of healthcare equipment production at the Mill Hotel in SudburyEmployees from Siemens Healthineers celebrate 80 years of healthcare equipment production at the Mill Hotel in Sudbury

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Saving lives

Quality is key in this area and one of the three Sudbury sites is dedicated to quality testing the technology.

"If you are making camera widgets and one goes wrong, the worse that will happen is that someone won't be able to take a picture but the equipment we are making saves lives," continued Mr Burns, who says many of the people working here are motivated by knowing their products are making a real difference.

Employees from Siemens Healthineers celebrate 80 years of healthcare equipment production at the Mill Hotel in SudburyEmployees from Siemens Healthineers celebrate 80 years of healthcare equipment production at the Mill Hotel in Sudbury

Looking back over eight decades of diagnostic production in the area, Mr Burns says the development of equipment has been driven by a need to improve the accuracy and the speed of a diagnosis.

"Today it's all about linking up the technology, so, for example, a surgeon can download the result of a patient's test in theatre or a GP can access all records from different locations at his desk.

"New test results can be available in a matter of minutes meaning medical staff are so much more informed."

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Employees from Siemens Healthineers celebrate 80 years of healthcare equipment production at the Mill Hotel in SudburyEmployees from Siemens Healthineers celebrate 80 years of healthcare equipment production at the Mill Hotel in Sudbury

Skills

But despite the cutting-edge nature of the technology being developed in Sudbury, Mr Burns says the company remains less visible in the local area than he would like - a situation he is looking to address, so that health care manufacturing can stay in Sudbury for another 80 years.

This has led to employees going into local schools to talk about their work and the importance of studying STEM subjects, while the company has also been involved in a skills swap programme with Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge.

"We realised we might be facing a skills gaps in the future, so through these initiatives we are looking forward and doing something to address it," Mr Burns added.

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