Hospital's state-of-the-art sterilisation facility is officially opened

An £8million state-of-the-art healthcare sterilisation facility in Northumberland has been officially opened.

By David Sedgwick
Monday, 22nd November 2021, 9:00 am
Blyth Valley MP Ian Levy (right) officially opens the Northumbria Sterile Processing Centre healthcare facility joined by (l-r) Tony Wells CEO of Merit, Morris Muter of Dysart Developments, and Sir James Mackey Chief Executive of Northumbria Healthcare.

The Northumbria Sterile Processing Centre, which is in the grounds of the Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital in Cramlington and has been disinfecting and sterilising medical equipment since the summer, was opened by Blyth Valley MP Ian Levy.

The sterile processing centre replaces two Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust sterilisation departments located at Wansbeck and North Tyneside hospitals, both of which were built more than 30 years ago.

Mr Levy was given a tour around the centre and shown the various processes that can disinfect and sterilise half-a-million pieces of medical equipment a year, which is an additional 200,000 than could be processed before.

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Blyth Valley MP Ian Levy is given a tour of the £8 million state-of-the-art Northumbria Sterile Processing Centre healthcare facility.

Each piece of equipment takes up to four-and-a-half hours to go through the process.

Mr Levy said: “I was absolutely delighted to officially open this new facility in Cramlington. It is yet another example of the forward thinking of Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.

“What I particularly like about this project is that the construction was led by Cramlington-based Merit. As with the trust’s PPE manufacturing facility in Seaton Delaval, this has provided jobs for local people.”

Cramlington-based Merit constructed the two-storey bespoke and carbon-neutral facility and the project not only supports the local economy but is also critical in the provision of high-quality patient care and wellbeing.

Blyth Valley MP Ian Levy with Northumbria Healthcare’s decontamination manager Janet Pearson.

Janet Pearson, the trust’s decontamination manager, said: “I am so proud of this facility and the role that it plays in providing high-quality patient care.

"Although this service is behind the scenes, it is critical to improving the health and wellbeing of tens of thousands of patients every year and in building patient confidence.

"Our clinicians rely on having the equipment they need to provide this care to our patients.

"The equipment that we disinfect and sterilise is used in a large and varied number of departments including theatres, A&E, maternity and podiatry, to name just a few.

"I would like to recognise and thank everyone who has been involved in this project.

“The centre demonstrates the trust’s commitment to not only providing excellent care, but also to innovation and supporting the regional healthcare system.”

Tony Wells, Merit’s CEO, said: “Merit worked collaboratively with both the trust and Dysart to deliver an innovative solution that could meet the fast track, affordability and sustainability requirements of this project.

“A large proportion of the facility was manufactured offsite at the Merit factory locally in Cramlington, which is home to our successful apprenticeship programme, then transported five miles to the hospital for installation.

“It has been refreshing to work with a trust that recognises the benefits of modern methods of construction and which clearly embraces innovation as a key driver for improving productivity and skills in the region.”

Medical equipment arrives at the facility, is disassembled and checked to ensure all equipment is fully exposed and can be cleaned while going through the different cycles.

Items are disinfected in washers and then packed to go through the sterilisation process. Each pack is then distributed to hospitals. Quality checks are in place throughout the process.