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60 Second Interview with George Needham
Insights from George Needham, Sterile Services Department Manager, University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust.
Here he discusses his work and challenges in the 24 hour department he manages.
1. Please describe a typical working day.
"I get to work at 05.30am and discuss the previous night shift with the supervisor who was on duty. Then at 07.30am, I inform the day shift staff of what’s been happening through the night and what needs to be done that day. After that I spend my day checking emails, in meetings, chasing people up and resolving issues with other departments such as Theatres, Intensive Care, etc."
2. Is there a key tool you depend on in your daily working life, or a key skill you have which assists you?
"Being organised helps. We process about 156,000 instrument trays per year, so I keep a daily record of the instruments as this helps to plan staffing and other resources required. It also helps us to plan the following year’s budget more effectively and be prepared for any increases in workload.
Communication is also high on the list for the smooth running of the department. CSSD (Central Sterile Services Department) has regular meetings with other departments i.e. Theatres to ensure both parties are kept up-to-date with any changes that may be occurring in the future."
3. What do you feel is a major challenge within your role?
"A quick overnight turnaround of instruments can be difficult at times. We can sometimes receive about 250 instrument trays at 7pm, which are required at 8am the next morning. This can put pressure on our night-shift workers.
Making savings each year is also a challenge. As part of the Trust’s Cost Improvement Programme, I have to reduce the department’s expenditure each year. One way I made savings in the past was by switching from paper Bowie and Dick packs to the 3M™ Electronic Test System (ETS). It has many benefits such as electronic data archiving and it saves on storage space (as I don’t have to store paper packs), and I also found it worked out 11p cheaper per test than the original packs I was using."
4. What advantage has the ETS brought to your department?
"The ETS brings a lot of value to my department and I have been using it for over 4 years now. A change in colour on an indicator sheet only tells me there is no residual air, whereas the ETS gives me a large amount of information and data. For instance, a few days ago the ETS gave a fail Bowie and Dick result, but my autoclave was giving a pass. When I looked into it using the ETS software, a small problem with the steam supply was indicated, which has now been corrected.
Another advantage with the ETS is that it is on our network system and information can be retrieved through this system. This means we can quickly and easily retrieve data on sterilizer performance for any date. It also means it is secure because IT Services manage the data back-up process."
5. What do you think of the support you receive from 3M?
"From a sales and technical perspective, 3M is excellent. The training we received on the ETS was comprehensive and well coordinated so that all shifts were covered. Ongoing periodic training is also provided free of charge."
6. What do you think the future of sterilization has in store?
"Technology in this area is improving, and there have been a lot of advances in the quality of equipment i.e. washers and sterilizers. It is important to keep up with modern technology in this industry, to ensure optimum productivity and an efficient service for the Trust."