Decontamination of surgical instruments
In January 2001, the Minister of Health announced that the Government would invest £200 million in improving decontamination in the NHS in England. It was agreed that the NHS needed state-of-the-art decontamination “locked in” as part of its culture and this is what was set out in the national strategy, launched in June 2003.
The key elements of the Strategy are:
• adoption of appropriate European standards
• an inspection regime
• a mixed economy
• a level playing field between NHS and commercially provided services
• new-style partnerships between the NHS and commercial service providers
A Code of Practice on the Control and Prevention of Healthcare Associated Infection came into effect on 1st October 2006 and this will form the basis of the Healthcare Commission’s Health Check from 1st April 2007. Among other things, the Code requires NHS organisations (including those providing primary and tertiary care, as well as those providing secondary care) to comply with the appropriate standards for the decontamination of reusable medical devices, which includes surgical instruments.
Practice action – unless you are already exclusively using single-use instruments and/or a fully accredited and CE marked Sterile Services Department (NHS or private Sector) for reusable instruments, you need to review your instrument usage strategy.
If you have any questions about the Decontamination Programme you should take these up with your Primary Care Organisation.