The Need

A city-based foundation Trust was undertaking a refurbishment of its existing decontamination facilities where all old equipment was to be removed. The Trust considered several options including outsourcing its decontamination operations or using a mobile unit. The equipment within the existing facilities was several years old and the refurbishment was part of a planned upgrade of the facilities, situated within the main building of the hospital.

The trust needed a solution which could house their decontamination facilities for the four month duration of the refurbishment.

The Plan

After investigating the options open to them, the Trust discovered there were two sites within their region that could undertake the decontamination work on an outsourced basis. However, the turnaround times and the cost of increasing the scope inventory required at these sites made a mobile option preferable.

Further research directed the Trust to Vanguard as a specialist provider of exactly the kind of mobile solution they needed.

Working alongside the operations and clinical teams at Vanguard Healthcare Solutions, the Trust’s team developed a plan to use a specialist mobile decontamination unit where the Trust and its staff would retain control of the process, dictate its own turnaround times and operating hours. The plan also meant the Trust would not need to increase its instrument stock and could use its own transport and staff.

One issue was limited options for where the unit could be sited due to the central location of the hospital. Only two viable sites were available and the preferred option, as it had access to electricity and other utilities, had limited space. Road closures were required to move the unit into position, and the Vanguard team liaised with the local police to organise this.

The Solution

The Vanguard mobile endoscopy decontamination unit offered the Trust a self-contained environment to undertake the sterilisation of flexible endoscopes. It houses a range of sophisticated equipment, including four automated endoscope reprocessing machines (AERs), a duplex reverse osmosis water treatment system, two endoscopy-grade double sinks and two drying cabinets.  In addition, it features a staff welfare area, climate-controlled environment and toilet facilities, ensuring a quiet and comfortable workspace for staff.

The Vanguard team developed a solution to ensure the unit was securely and conveniently housed in a small courtyard to the rear of one of the hospital buildings. The unit’s compact size, at 15mx5m allowed it to be positioned in what was a relatively small space. It was overlooked by some domestic properties, making it an unusual location. Appropriate power and utilities were arranged by Vanguard, working alongside the hospital’s estates team.

After the roads around the hospital were temporarily closed in arrangement with the local police, the unit was delivered swiftly and commissioning began.

The development of the solution for the Trust involved other challenges which the Vanguard team, working alongside clinical, estates and operational staff at the Trust, overcame.

In previous placements the Vanguard decontamination unit had worked with a 60 scope inventory and Vanguard had provided the relevant connectors for the scopes to be decontaminated within the unit.

At the hospital, given the high levels of specialist scoping procedures offered at the hospital, there was a requirement for more than 300 different scopes in their inventory, requiring 50 different scope connectors, which were provided by Vanguard.

The scopes included specialist gastro scopes, endoscopes with ultrasound built in, multi-lumen scopes and nasal scopes among many others.

Vanguard also provided onsite training, some consumables, trolleys and on on-site technician who recorded activity and operated as a “trouble-shooter”. Additional training was provided on how to use the Cantel washers and driers which are included within the unit as well as the tracking software.

The Outcome

Throughout the period of the four month contract, more than 6,500 scopes were processed with the unit managing between between 70 and 120 scope processes per day, working seven days a week, 14 hours per day – 7am-9pm on weekdays and varying on weekend hours depending on requirements.

Around 30 people across both the Trust and Vanguard worked to install, set up and commission the unit and four team members worked on the unit on a daily basis undertaking the decontamination work.

The Trust’s Service Manager for Sterile Services said: “The equipment provided was in very good condition. We were supported daily by the Vanguard onsite technician and, when it was needed, we had a prompt response from the escalation team.

“The staff feedback we had was that the environment was nice to work in and had useful facilities. The benefits for us using this option was we had control of the process, it was more cost effective than alternative choices and there was flexibility in the process to amend opening time or increase or decrease flow, dependent on demand.

“The project team were knowledgeable and available. They attended the various project meetings to ensure everything ran smoothly.”