IT has been a year of success for a Bolton manufacturer as it seeks to clean up the healthcare sector.

Vernacare, a global healthcare supplier based in Folds Road and Buckshaw Village, has enjoyed massive growth in the last 12 months and launched a host of new products striving to tackle costly infections and protect the environment.

Last year Vernacare acquired its Chorley neighbour Synergy Healthcare Consumable Solutions bringing the two businesses under one brand.

The move has seen the Bolton firm’s turnover double, swelling it to a £62 million business.

In the intervening months the company has been working to synthesise the firms and integrate the two cultures formally and informally. Hakeem Adebiyi, Vernacare’s international sales and marketing director, said the merger had been happening “quickly and successfully”, adding: "It's also about rationalising products and making sure that we have a fully cohesive group of products which gives the right message to the market."

Vernacare was founded in 1961 as a disposable hospital products manufacturer base at The Egyptian Mill in Halliwell.

Since then the firm has grown into an international brand, operating in 50 markets around the world, selling a range of toileting, hygiene, environmental cleaning, skin integrity and surgical products for the healthcare sector.

However, despite its global expansion, Vernacare has always “proudly” retained its manufacturing hub in Bolton.

The mainstay of the company is its infection reducing “single use” system utilising wood pulp-based toileting solutions ­— including urinals, bedpans and wash bowls ­— which are used only once before being put in a macerator.

These products are their contents are then mashed up and the liquid disposed of down the drain helping hospitals and others in the sector have no plastic waste and slash their utilities and water usage.

Mr Adebiyi said: “This is a revolutionary system here in the UK and in a lot of the world where they would still use plastic products.

“The system is trying to fight against plastics and remove them from the healthcare environment.”

Vernacare’s single use system also advances one of the main thrusts of the company, in trying to eradicate the risk of hospital acquired infections, such as MRSA and Clostridium Difficile, which can result in longer patient stays and require antibiotic treatment.

Increased antibiotic use can in turn lead to resistance ­— a growing public health concern ­— making infections tougher to treat and easier to spread.

Confronting this challenge is hugely expensive for the healthcare sector and is vital to save lives, Mr Adebiyi said.

He added: “Anti-bacterial resistance is costing a huge amount of amount of money.

“It is a huge burden on the NHS and it is estimated that 30 per cent of healthcare acquired infections could be avoided with good practice.

“The World Health Organisation puts it up there with global warming in terms of risk to humanity.

“Fighting this is not about creating new anti-biotics but reducing resistance.”

Further underpinning this system is Vernacare’s commitment to being environmentally friendly and their drive to foster a sector-wide and industry-consciousness shift towards plastic free, fully degradable products.

This is exemplified in the firm’s recent launch of the first plastic free wipes range ­— including flushable and macerable options designed to prevent sewer blockages.

“This is a main driver of our business,” Mr Adebiyi said, adding: “All of the products that we are now developing are made from cellulose fibres, which is a challenge because we know it is more expensive and sometimes people just do not want to pay.

“But we also know it is improving the lives of patients, staff and others in the healthcare in an environmentally friendly way.”

In keeping with its ethical outlook, this year Vernacare has made Toilet Twinning ­— which funds sanitation projects in the developing world ­— its nominated charity.

Mr Adebiyi said: “We feel that Toilet twinning really fits with what we are trying to do and we are looking to work in the developing world so children and teachers have a safe and hygienic place to go.”