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Friday, 31 October 2014

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Safety fears raised over sterile suites at Cumbrian hospitals

Hospital bosses want to centralise the sterile areas where they prepare pharmaceutical products in Carlisle.

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Jeremy Rushmer: ‘Safe, sustainable services’

One senior director warned that the current situation gave him concerns over concerns.

At present there are two aseptic suites, one at the West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven and one at the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle, which are used to manufacture substances, such as chemotherapy drugs.

But it is proposed to close the Whitehaven unit and transport products from an expanded unit in Carlisle.

At a meeting of North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust’s board, bosses were asked to explain why this was being proposed if it would not save money.

Medical director Dr Jeremy Rushmer said at the moment the service is outdated, with too many products being manufactured on site instead of bought in from elsewhere.

“I think there is a real clinical issue with what we use our aseptic suites for. It is a major issue for me,” he said. “They are currently used for things I am not familiar with, when it would be more appropriate to buy off the shelf.

“The way we produce and standardise our medicines and use bespoke preparations here is something that gives me great patient safety concerns.

“What goes on here is something I recognise from many years ago. I fully support the centralisation.”

He did not have a preference as to which of the units was retained.

But chief executive Ann Farrar said Carlisle was preferred because the most complex cases were treated there.

However, a decision on the move was deferred to a future meeting so a more detailed report could be produced.

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