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North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust - 70 years of the NHS

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Endoscopy patient recall

Posted on Tuesday 19th August 2014
cumberland infirmary

North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust has written, as a precaution, to 357 patients after discovering a problem with two of the three machines used to clean endoscopes at the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle.

Whilst all equipment goes through a rigorous manual and automated cleaning process, on this occasion and for a set period of time, two of the three automated machines used to clean endoscopes at the Cumberland Infirmary, were not using the correct levels of disinfectant required to meet the Trust’s very high standards. 

This issue concerns a very specific group of patients who had an endoscopy procedure at the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle between 20 May and 19 June 2014 and, specifically, where the endoscopes used were cleaned in the two machines affected by this issue. 

All affected patients have been contacted directly and the Trust is very strongly stressing that there is no need for any other patients who have not had a direct letter to be concerned. 

As a precautionary measure and with the full support and advice of Public Health England, the Trust has written to these 357 patients to advise them of the cleaning issue in two of the three automated machines. 

Whilst the risk of any infection at all is extremely low, in the best interests of openness, transparency and in line with the Trust’s duty of candour, these patients have been invited for a blood test, which is standard practise in situations like this, to exclude any possible risk of infection.

All 357 affected patients have received a personal letter from the Trust’s medical director with a dedicated helpline to call - there is no need for any other patients to be concerned. 

Dr Jeremy Rushmer, medical director at North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust said: “We are very grateful that our endoscopy team in Carlisle brought this issue to our attention so that we could take appropriate action as we are doing now.

“I would strongly reiterate that the offer of a blood test for certain patients is purely a precautionary measure and the risk of any infection from this type of incident is extraordinarily low.

“Nevertheless we take our duty of care to patients very seriously and felt it was important to write to these specific patients directly to make sure we offer the right support and reassurance. 

“We have set up a dedicated helpline to make sure that appointments for these blood tests can be organised very quickly and to answer any questions that patients may have.”

Staff at the endoscopy department at the Cumberland Infirmary raised concerns after routine checks revealed there was a problem with the levels of disinfectant solutions used, which were lower than expected in two of the three automated cleaning machines. This was immediately reported, rectified and will now be investigated by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). 

Despite the lower levels of disinfectant used, the cleaning, disinfection and rinsing which did take place is very likely to have been enough to ensure the endoscopes were free of any bacteria or viruses.

Kate Brierley, nurse consultant at Public Health England said: “We have been working very closely to support North Cumbria throughout this process and would like to reassure this specific group of patients that the risk of any infection is extremely low. 

“The Trust has proactively contacted the patients affected by this issue as a precautionary measure and we would also stress that no other patients need to be concerned. 

“The actions being taken by North Cumbria are in line with national best practice in similar situations which have happened in other NHS organisations across the country.”