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Surgeons warning over private decontamination centres

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Surgery is being cancelled due to private companies’ poor cleaning and damage to surgical instruments, reports the Royal College of Surgeons of England.

Its survey of around 250 surgeons found two-thirds were unhappy about the availability and condition of instruments sent for sterilisation to out-sourced private decontamination centres.

The government trend to encourage NHS trusts to use private sector companies is achieving its main aim of sterilising kit, the college said, but, many items are arriving back late or going missing and sensitive, expensive tools are ending up damaged.

‘Patients should be concerned to learn that operations they need are being delayed because vital tools are not available,’ said Professor Richard Ramsden, an ENT surgeon.

‘This preliminary study indicates that surgeons working with on-site instrument cleaning facilities are getting a better service, enough to warrant an urgent reassessment of what’s best for the NHS,’ he said.

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