Next month will spell the end of an era for the Bury St Edmunds-based Central Sterile Services Department (CSSD).
The service, which is responsible for decontaminating ‘kit’ from West Suffolk Hospital, as well as equipment for some GP and dental surgeries, is relocating from the Hospital Road site it has occupied since 1971 to a new, purpose-built facility on the main Bury hospital site in Hardwick Lane.
To celebrate, on Wednesday, the hospital’s chief executive, Stephen Dunn, joined current and past CSSD employees for a tea party and a trip down memory lane as he walked through corridors displaying decades of newspaper cuttings and photographs.
For sterile services manager Angela Logan the move presents an opportunity to modernise and make their service more effective.
As well as leaving behind old equipment, including a boiler plant which also served the site’s former laundry, moving will negate the need for staff to hand-disinfect the stainless steel trolleys they transport surgical instruments on – a ‘big plus’.
Ms Logan said staff were so used to the old machinery and having to do ‘all the little jobs’ needed to keep things ‘ticking along’ that they could have underestimated the full benefits of relocating.
“For the staff it will be amazing because I don’t think there’s a day goes by where we don’t have to call an engineer for a part.
“We have four washers and four sterilisers and we haven’t run at full capacity for at least 18 months,” she said.
Ms Logan joined the CSSD as a technician in 1995 and worked her way up to department manager.
Of the changes she has seen during that time, moving from handwritten records to a computerised management system in order to become the first hospital to gain ISO accreditation in 2006 – which it is proud to have maintained ever since – was the biggest.
Her long-standing colleague, supervisor Merril Debrick began her career at the hospital’s Theatre Sterilising Services Unit (TSSU) in 1988 and underwent ‘a massive change’ when the service moved off site to combine with the SSD in 1994.
She is excited about moving back to the hospital and said visiting the new unit had alleviated a lot of the concerns people had.
She said: “It’s a big change for everybody but I do honestly believe everybody’s looking forward to it and, by going to see the unit, all the concerns they had are dropping off.”