Hundreds of patients treated at a North hospital have been recalled following problems with the sterile cleaning of medical machines.
North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust has written 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, 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 standards.
The recall concerns patients who had an endoscopy procedure at the Cumberland Infirmary between May 20 and June 19 this year.
Whilst the risk of any infection is low, patients have been invited for a blood test to exclude any possible risk of infection.
All affected patients have been contacted and the Trust is insisting there is no need for any other patients who have not had a direct letter 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.”
An endoscopy is a procedure where the inside of your body is examined using a long tube that has a light source and a video camera at one end.
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 has been rectified and will now be investigated by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
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.”
A dedicated patient helpline number has been established and communicated to those patients who are affected patients