The department disinfects, inspects and sterilises surgical instruments and other medical devices that have been used during surgical and medical procedures. These include operations on the hip, knee, eyes and other general surgical procedures.
It regularly processes more than 45,000 medical devices monthly for more than 100 different departments, GP practices and dental clinics in North Yorkshire and beyond.
A centralised decontamination facility is now up and running following the remodelling and extending of the old Sterile Services department.
This solution gives space to provide six new endoscopic equipment washers located in one central area with the provision of a dedicated Reverse Osmosis (RO) water supply and the ability to create a full pass-through system ensuring all medical devices are fully traceable to the decontamination and sterilisation process but to the individual patient too. There is also space to extend further in the future, should activity increase, therefore futureproofing this service.
The facility meets all current guidelines on decontaminating flexible endoscopes. An endoscope is a long, thin, flexible tube that has a light source and camera at one end. Once inserted through a natural orifice, images of the inside of the body are relayed to a television screen. Endoscopes can be inserted into the body through a natural opening, such as the mouth and down the throat, or through the rectum.
The reprocessing of flexible endoscopes has been brought into the management of the existing Sterile Services department which reduces staffing costs and increases the quality of the service provided that would be associated with the provision of scope washing facility in an off-site location. As part of this work, a dedicated plant room is provided at ground floor level to house the equipment required to support the new facility.
Melanie Davies, Head of Medical Devices & Sterile Services at Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Without the work of the Sterile Services Team the equipment and devices used in surgical procedures could be potentially life-threatening instead of life-saving. We are a vital part of the chain of care upon which patient safety depends.
“This is a significant investment for the Trust which has been in the planning since 2011. It is one that ensures we are able to support frontline clinical staff well into the future.”
The Sterile Services department was originally constructed as part of the Abbey Wing/theatres development in 1994 and was designed to cater for the on-site decontamination requirements at the time. Since then, the Trust has expanded, taking on community services and additional day surgery which has meant demand on the team has increased. While there has been some reorganisation within the department, the time has now come where physical expansion is required.
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