Glasgow & West Scotland

'Dirty instruments' delayed operations at Gartnavel Hospital

Orthopaedic operations at a Glasgow hospital were delayed because surgical equipment was deemed "not safe".

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde confirmed that planned orthopaedic surgery at Gartnavel General Hospital was postponed last month.

This was due to concern over the "quality and quantity" of instruments. More than 200 procedures were affected.

NHS bosses said they had reviewed the processes used and surgery had now resumed on a phased basis.

The equipment comes from one central decontamination unit at Cowlairs, which serves all hospitals in the Yorkhill, north and south divisions of the city.

The Herald newspaper reported that the surgical instruments were either damaged or the paper wrappings were broken.

Scotland's Patients Association (SPA) said the situation was "appalling" and added that there was concern about the impact on waiting lists.

'Strict procedures'

A spokeswoman for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said: "We have seen a pattern develop at Gartnavel where a higher number of reports of damaged trays have been received from the orthopaedic teams. We are not seeing this pattern at any other of our sites.

"We therefore took immediate steps to suspend orthopaedic surgery at Gartnavel so that we could investigate possible reasons for the issues.

"We fully reviewed the processes at our off-site decontamination unit at Cowlairs and are confident that procedures have been put in place to address the issues identified."

The spokesman said that an "ongoing enhanced Quality Assurance process" had also been put in place.

The spokeswoman added: "Planned orthopaedic surgery at Gartnavel General Hospital has since resumed on a phased basis and we are confident that we will be resuming a normal programme of surgery from next week.

"We have apologised to the 200 patients affected and are currently making alternative arrangements for them to have their planned surgery."

Dr Jean Turner from the SPA said the situation was unforgivable.

She added: "I think it is horrifying when we have been fighting against infections and fighting to get waiting lists down and patients are suffering because they're having an operation cancelled that they've long desired.

"Instruments that are obviously dirty and obviously unfit for purpose stand out but it does make you wonder what is the standard of this central decontamination sterilising unit."

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