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Issue Date:- 28 April 2008


UNISON, the UK’s largest public sector union, is calling for a halt to a dangerous drive to end in-house sterilisation of hospital operating theatre equipment.  The Department of Health is backing big private decontamination supercentres, which are replacing on-site sterilisation, threatening patient safety and leading to cancelled operations.

Mike Jackson, UNISON Senior National Officer said:- “Sadly operations are being cancelled because of incomplete packs or broken and dirty instruments. UNISON has warned time and time again that taking sterilisation services out of hospitals and replacing them with supercentres - which are often miles away - is a recipe for disaster.

No one should have to go through the pain and distress of having their operation cancelled at the last minute because the right equipment is not in place. And lives should not be put at risk unnecessarily because surgical instruments have not been properly decontaminated and sterilised.

Patient safety should come before private profit, clearly that is not happening here. The Government must call a halt to this dangerous drive to close down in-house sterilisation services before more patients are made to suffer.”

Right from the start a UNISON report made clear that the whole programme setting up these supercentres was fundamentally flawed, and that highly questionable financial incentives were involved and we are being proved right.  Hospital Trusts are seduced with promises of up to £1m from the Department of Health to buy new equipment, if they sign up to the private projects.

The union is campaigning against new centres being set up in other parts of the country from the South West to the far north. The supercentres mean that highly specialised instruments will be travelling long distances and be vulnerable to hold-ups because of bad weather, road works, congestion and traffic accidents. In addition packs contain delicate equipment easily damaged in transit.

Mike Jackson added:- “The risks of this programme far outweigh the benefits. In addition to patient safety the environmental costs are high. Instead of a short journey on a hospital trolley, thousands of extra road miles are necessary to transport the equipment."


SCHOOL children across the region are being urged to think about the impact that energy wastage will have on the future environment, following the launch of a national poster competition.  The competition, which coincides with the launch of TAC’s energy conservation campaign, is called Energy Impact 2050 and asks primary school children in Merseyside to design a poster that will encourage their friends and family to think about what our planet may look like in 2050 if we do not take action to save energy now.

Competition packs have been sent to primary schools across the region and schools have until 1 July, 2008 to participate. Every child that takes part will have the chance to be the grand prize winner and could win a cash prize of £1,000 for their school and a prize pack, with runners up winning £100 for their school and a prize pack.

Prize packs include a wind-up radio and a certificate.

The winning school will be announced to coincide with a grand presentation ceremony in London later this year.

TAC UK is the energy management company which has launched the energy conservation campaign with the aim of helping raise awareness among parents, teachers and school children of energy-saving initiatives.

With the serious message of Future Social ResponsibilityTAC believes that energy conservation must be a priority in the education of the next generation.

Richard Strode from TAC said:- “Almost half of the UK’s carbon dioxide emissions, the main greenhouse gas which is believed to cause climate change, actually comes from the things we do every day, such as leaving lights on unnecessarily and over-filling the kettle.

We have launched this poster competition as the effects of poor energy management will be far more apparent to future generations and it is essential that we begin to educate them about energy conservation now.”

The poster competition will give around 150,000 children in England a chance to take part and learn about energy impacts in the future.

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