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Care and Independence chooses Sunderland for first manufacturing base outside Oxford

An innovative medical equipment company is creating jobs after choosing Sunderland for its first manufacturing base outside its Oxfordshire headquarters.

Care and Independence Systems supplies its award-winning Glove Sling range for handling patients in hospital and at home to the NHS, and it exports across Europe. It is the UK market leader in its sector and has applied for three patents for its products, which it has been making in Bicester since 2001. 
Care and Independence, part of Spectra Care Group, opened a customer care office in Sunderland three years ago with three staff and has now moved into manufacturing at its North Hylton Enterprise Park unit. The company has expanded to employ 20 people at the Sunderland site. 
Managing director, Richard Handley, said: "We specialise in patient handling equipment and we have done a lot of innovative design work making slings for lifting people with a disability. 
"We are the leading manufacturer in Europe for this type of product and we export to Germany, Holland, Belgium, France and Spain. We have also been busy building up our domestic market and more and more NHS Trusts are now buying from us.
"We were running out of space in Oxford and finding it difficult to recruit people with the right skills, so we decided to choose Sunderland where we already had an office. 
"The response has been excellent. We found the people have a brilliant work ethic and we've also been lucky to recruit employees with the right skills."
Manufacturing in Sunderland began just over a year with a pilot machine and one member of staff from Oxfordshire, who had family connections in Sunderland. The company received advice from Sunderland City Council and support from the Regional Growth Fund towards new equipment for further job creation in the city. Care and Independence has also acquired a second building on the same estate for future expansion. 
Richard Handley said: "Sunderland City Council has been absolutely brilliant, very friendly, constructive and open to discussion. Obviously setting up from scratch with equipment is a major investment and they helped with that. 
"We already have two patented products, and In the last 12 months we have applied for patents on three more products we've developed. We will be producing some of them in Sunderland, which we are excited about. The equipment is used by the NHS across the UK, , social care departments of local authorities, and by individuals with a relative who has a disability. Our staff feel they're making a real contribution to improving people's lives."
Councillor Harry Trueman, deputy leader of Sunderland City Council, said: "We are delighted Care and Independence Systems chose Sunderland for its first manufacturing base outside of the South East and have had such a great experience here in the city. 
"Sunderland has an excellent skill set for manufacturing businesses and we are able to provide a variety of support to companies seeking a location where they can access employees with the right sort of expertise. Care and Independence is a highly successful, innovative company providing quality jobs for the city and we look forward to supporting its continued growth."