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Union condemns sterilisation centres


25 April, 2008  

Healthcare union Unison is calling for a halt to a “dangerous” drive to end in-house sterilisation of hospital operating theatre equipment.

The Department of Health is backing private decontamination supercentres, which are replacing on-site sterilisation, and Unison claims that threatens patient safety and leads to cancelled operations.

Unison senior national officer Mike Jackson said: “Sadly operations are being cancelled because of incomplete packs or broken and dirty instruments. Unison has warned time and time again that taking sterilisation services out of hospitals and replacing them with supercentres – which are often miles away – is a recipe for disaster.

“No-one should have to go through the pain and distress of having their operation cancelled at the last minute because the right equipment is not in place.  And lives should not be put at risk unnecessarily because surgical instruments have not been properly decontaminated and sterilised.”

Unison insists the idea of supercentres is fundamentally flawed, and is campaigning against new centres being set up.

It says the supercentres mean highly specialised instruments have to travel long distances and are therefore vulnerable to hold-ups in traffic jams. In addition, the union says delicate equipment can be easily damaged in transit.

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