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Right Arrow Trust invests 1.2m in cleaning medical instruments
16 August 2010 at 12:29

A hospital trust has splashed out £130,000 on four new dishwashers.

But the hi-tech machines aren’t in the kitchens to shift baked on lasagne. Instead they’re part of a £1.2m investment to keep medical instruments clean and sterile at Southport and Ormskirk hospitals.

The newly refurbished sterilisation and disinfection unit at Southport hospital will handle 900 sets of instruments on average from across the Trust every week.

Jonathan Parry, Chief Executive of Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust, said: “The rebuilding of this department is another example of how the Trust is committed to investing in the highest quality services to benefit our patients.

“Some organisations choose to outsource this service which can result in a loss of control over quality. Our patients can be sure all our equipment is thoroughly cleaned and sterilised and checked at every stage to meet our extremely high standards.”

The project was managed by the Trust Estates and Facilities Department and overseen by its director Steve Taylor.

Trust Decontamination Manager Robbie Cormie (pictured) added: “The department has been totally redesigned to reflect the flow of the work and to provide the highest quality equipment and working environment. The new unit is eco-friendly and totally latex-free. It is something we are extremely proud of.”

The washer-disinfector machines use special alkaline detergent and ultra-clean water that heat the instruments up to 93C before drying them at 110C.

After the initial wash, staff reassemble and check the instruments. They are then packed and sterilised at 135C using steam which, due to the properties of the special packing materials used, keeps them sterile until they are needed again.

The room where the instruments are packed is cleaner than an operating theatre, exceeding the British and European standards for the manufacturing of medical devices. In order to achieve this, staff wear specially laundered clothing and every aspect of the room is continuously monitored to ensure that it stays exceptionally clean.

Each process in the department is computer-controlled and every cycle is archived to the hospital computer network. Each set of instruments can then be tracked to individual patients.

Issued by Tony Ellis, marketing and communications manager
Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust
Telephone 01704 704494

Notes for editors

Pictures shows Decontamination Manager Robbie Cormie with one of the new washer-disinfectors.

1 HSDU closed for refurbishment in April and the 19 staff were temporarily relocated to Synergy Health, Chorley, while the work took place.

2. The department cleans all reusable medical devices from Southport and Ormskirk hospitals and operates seven days a week.

3. The washer-disinfector machines operate on a one-hour cycle, beginning with a powerful cold wash that removes 90% of the contamination. Cold water is used because biological matter solidifies with heat. Strong alkaline detergent is then added, which breaks down proteins, for a 63C wash. The machine is drained and refilled with reverse-osmosis water, which has been passed through special biological filters so it is of pharmaceutical quality with no residual chemicals or bacteria. It is then heated to 93C, for a sufficient amount of time that the instruments themselves reach that temperature. Next the water is drained and the sophisticated drying system dries at 110C. The instruments come out of the machine clean and safe to handle.