Media Release: Scottish nurses set up company to produce innovative, new diabetes accessories

EDINBURGH nurses have come up with a product which could help people, particularly children and young people, deal with the day-to-day practicalities of living with Type 1 diabetes and wearing an insulin pump.

Diabetes nurses from NHS Lothian and Edinburgh Napier University, who work at the Metabolic Unit at the Western General Hospital, noted widespread concern about the aesthetic and practical challenges of using an insulin pump, which is worn on the body as an alternative to multiple daily insulin injections.

After one of the team tried to find a cover for their own insulin pump to no avail, the specialists, including Jacqui Charlton, a lecturer and practitioner in diabetes at Edinburgh Napier University and diabetes nurse, Liz Mackay, and consultant, Dr Mark Strachan, from NHS Lothian, carried out research on patients who use insulin pumps. They found that many others had similar experiences.

The team identified a gap in the market for specially designed covers for the pumps and set up a not-for-profit company – ipSOX to make them available.

Jacqui Charlton, a lecturer/practitioner in diabetes at Edinburgh Napier University, explains:  “We spoke to many people who had tried to find a cover that was both comfortable to wear and did not make them feel self-conscious but there was very little choice.

“Some said that the pumps were uncomfortable when worn against the skin or that pumps could be visible when worn under clothing. The covers on the market at the time were bulky, indiscreet or used Velcro, which can damage your clothing.”

The research revealed that some female patients placed their pumps in their bras because there was nowhere else to conceal them. One of the key findings was that there was also very little available for children and young people.

The team at the Metabolic Unit resolved to find a solution. They discovered a family-run company in Yorkshire, The Funky Fone Sox Company Limited, which produces covers that would fit the pump.

With help from the Edinburgh BioQuarter to develop the idea, ipSOX Limited was set up to promote colourful covers specially designed for insulin pumps, sourced from the Funky Fone Sox Company.

Liz Mackay explains: “ipSOX are protective covers for insulin pumps. They are soft and comfortable against the skin which stops uncomfortable rubbing and are machine washable.

“The fun bit is the covers can be customised with colourful designs and even diamantes and co-ordinated with outfits. A variety of vibrant designs are particularly popular with children.

“Some patients using insulin pumps prefer to conceal them so there is also an ecru coloured one which will go discreetly underneath clothes without showing through.”

Dr Jenny Cusiter, business development associate for the BioQuarter, said: “Edinburgh BioQuarter is a commercialisation partnership between NHS Lothian, Scottish Enterprise and the University of Edinburgh.

“We helped facilitate the company formation process and will be there to support ipSOX Ltd in the future.”

ipSOX is a not-for-profit company and all proceeds are reinvested in the Metabolic Clinic at the Western General Hospital.

Money raised through the sale of the covers will be used to help support diabetes care, including funding research into lifestyle issues when using an insulin pump.

Notes to editors:

  • Jacqui Charlton and Liz Mackay are diabetes specialist nurses, and Dr. Mark Strachan is a consultant physician in diabetes at the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh.
  • ipSOX Ltd is a collaborative company involving staff from NHS Lothian, Edinburgh Napier University and The Funky Fone Sox Company Limited.
  • About Edinburgh BioQuarter: At the heart of Scottish life sciences, Edinburgh BioQuarter is a joint venture between Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Inc, the NHS, the University of Edinburgh and Scottish Enterprise. Edinburgh BioQuarter commercialises world-leading medical research and brings investors, ideas and companies together at the BioQuarter campus on the outskirts of Edinburgh.
  • ipSOX Ltd is a not-for-profit company. The company name stands for ‘Insulin Pump Sox’.
  • The covers are sold online at and are priced £3.90 – £4.50 plus postage and packaging, with a minimum order of two.
  • Photographs are available to accompany the release.


Issued: 04.07.2011

Aileen MacArthur
Acting Communications Manager
NHS Lothian
0131 465 5646
07969 334 175

Patrick McFall
Media and Communications Officer
Edinburgh Napier University
0131 455 6314
07917 559 503

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