UK Approves Plan To Buy Equipment Decontamination Unit

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A plan to buy a unit housing a hospital decontamination and sterilisation unit for equipment has been approved by Health Minister Edwina Hart.

The unit to be purchased is currently leased by North Wales NHS Trust. This year, the five-year lease agreement was due to be renegotiated and previously, it was increased by 50 per cent at each review. An increase of 30 per cent is expected this year.

Based on professional advice and taking into account the associated costs with moving the unit, it was decided to consider purchasing the unit if the opportunity arose.

The ?2.7million Welsh Assembly Government investment will provide further opportunities to expand the facility in future.

Mrs Hart said that this, therefore, offers good value for money, and ensures money is well spent especially given the finite resources available to the NHS.

The unit, which opened in 1992, was the first in North Wales to be accredited. In fact, the unit has just had is accreditation renewed for a further three years following an external audit. The unit provides all departments and wards with equipment and materials needed to carry out clean and sterile procedures on patients. The unit also provides a sterilisation and decontamination service for the community nurses in North East Wales and also for the Spire Hospital, situated close to the Maelor site.

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Last year, more than 200,000 pieces of equipment made their way through the doors of the facility. However, with theatre trays and packs containing numerous instruments, it means millions of items making their way through the meticulous process, which includes decontamination and autoclaving.

Mrs Hart said: "The Sterilisation and Decontamination Units at hospitals across Wales are essential in the effective and safe delivery of healthcare.

"Following strict guidelines and procedures, each piece of equipment includes a unique barcode so it can it tracked through the decontamination and sterilisation process, and is then returned to the theatre or ward for subsequent use.

"This investment will enable this service to continue and avoid any inconvenience and disruption for staff. This is a good investment for the taxpayer as it secures the long-term future of the service and provides opportunities for it to expand."

Michael Williams, chair of North Wales NHS Trust, added: "Although the work of the sterilisation unit takes place out of sight of our patients, it plays a crucial part in ensuring their safety.

"Over the past 15 years the staff there have developed a first class service, achieving ISO accreditation and European quality standards.

"We are delighted to have Welsh Assembly Government backing to make sure this vital facility can continue to supply safe, sterilised equipment and instruments to our operating theatres, wards and departments."

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