Herts patients could face delays amid concerns medical equipment items are ‘missing’ or can no longer be maintained

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Hospital chiefs highlight 'limited' medical equipment

PATIENTS could face delays because of a limited supply of medical equipment – amid concerns items are ‘missing’ or can no longer be maintained, it has been suggested.

The ‘unavailability of safe medical equipment’ has now been recorded on the East and North Herts NHS Trust’s corporate risk register as an issue that ‘may’ affect the Trust.

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And on Wednesday (September 6) the updated register was presented to a board meeting of the Trust, which runs the Lister, Hertford County, QEII and Mount Vernon hospitals.

A general view of staff on a NHS hospital ward. Photo credit: Jeff Moore/PA WireA general view of staff on a NHS hospital ward. Photo credit: Jeff Moore/PA Wire
A general view of staff on a NHS hospital ward. Photo credit: Jeff Moore/PA Wire

According to that register, planned preventative maintenance has not always been possible because items have been in use or are ‘unaccounted for’.

And some items, it says, are no longer fit for purpose or reliable, due to the end of their maintenance support.

Without action, the risk register suggests that there could be a risk of potential delays to patient care, as a result of the unavailability of safe medical equipment.

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But the register also outlines a number of steps that have been taken – and are being planned – to mitigate that risk.

For example, maintenance programmes, it says, have now been shared with clinical leads to ensure the equipment is available for servicing- with policies revised and updated.

And, it says, the Trust is drawing up plans for an ‘equipment amnesty’ and a complete survey of ‘missing’ equipment, following an earlier audit that was carried out by an external company.

The resister also highlights plans for a new ‘equipment management database – and for a radio frequency interaction tagging (RFID) project.

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The updated corporate risk register was noted at the meeting of the Trust board.

And in a statement issued by the Trust, deputy chief executive and director of finance Martin Armstrong pointed to action that is being taken to address the availability of safe medical equipment.

“Patient safety is our top priority, which includes safe management and maintenance of our medical equipment,” said Mr Armstrong.

“We are taking steps to improve our processes for maintaining our medical equipment and ensuring it is safe and fit for purpose.”

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