Surgeries cancelled after leak forces closure of decontamination unit

Procedures in NHS Lothian will be disrupted for a minimum of two to four weeks.

Surgeries cancelled after leak forces closure of NHS Lothian hospital decontamination unit iStock

Surgeries have been cancelled after a water leak forced the closure of a hospital sterilisation and decontamination unit.

The facility, where surgical instruments are cleaned and prepared in an ultra-clean environment, serves the whole of NHS Lothian.

The closure forced the postponement of planned and non-emergency surgery on Friday and over the weekend and will mean no routine elective procedures can go ahead.

The extent of the damage is not yet known but it is thought that to repair it and re-open the faciltiy will take a minimum of to two to four weeks.

More urgent surgeries will be considered day by day on a case-by-case basis, the health board said.

NHS Lanarkshire, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and other health boards have offered support to NHS Lothian while their unit remains closed.

“We are sincerely sorry to all patients who have been or who will be affected by this problem,” said Tracey Gillies, NHS Lothian’s medical director.

“The decision to postpone any operation is never easy as we know how disappointing and stressful that can be. Unfortunately, it is essential, in order to ensure sufficient clean surgical supplies are available for emergency operations.”

Ms Gillies said patients would be contacted if their procedure is to be postponed and they will be notified as soon as possible of rescheduled dates for their surgery.

NHS Lanarkshire’s hospital sterilisation and decontamination unit (HSDU) Steris has been providing replacement supplies of the surgical instrument trays used in operating theatres.

NHS Lothian chief executive Calum Campbell said “We are very grateful to NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, NHS Lanarkshire and the other boards who have all offered support.

“My thanks also go to our HSDU staff who are travelling back and forth to Glasgow to work at NHS GGC’s HSDU to help maintain our supply of clean surgical trays.”

Although this means NHS Lothian remains equipped for emergencies and can carry out some planned surgery, even with this help there will still be significant disruption as it works to rectify the damage to the HSDU.

The water leak, which came from a drainage pipe, resulted in small puddles of water forming on the floor and damp areas where the walls meet the floor, the board said.

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