We have made clear from the outset that the issues did not relate to the unit’s processes for sterilising equipment.
Surgical site infection rates are closely and routinely monitored and both prior to, during and since the temporary closure, there have been no increases in infection rates.
The duty of candour is a legal requirement that boards follow to let a person know when an unexpected incident has occurred which results in actual harm to a patient.
This issue was carefully considered by senior clinicians and managers and they did consider whether the duty of candour applied in this instance.
Infection control advice and a range of information was taken into account – this included the fact that the process for sterilising equipment had not been compromised and was unconnected to the issues which led to the closure and there was no increase in infections in the period in question.
In this instance, as there was no evidence of actual harm, it was agreed that the duty would not apply and to write to patients would only cause unnecessary distress.
The unit re-opened last week and is once again fully operational allowing us to carry out our full programme of planned activity.
Regrettably, we had to postpone 1,075 operations as a result of the temporary closure and once again we would like to apologise to those patients affected.
We are making arrangements to offer new dates as soon as possible to all affected patients.
On the previous inspection:
The temporary closure of the unit related to issues with the fabric of the building, record keeping and training. These issues had first been raised in an earlier inspection during the summer but had not been resolved ahead of the further inspection by our quality assurance auditors in December.
We would like to stress again that the issues raised by the auditors did not apply to the sterilisation processes of equipment.
Following the remedial works to address these issues and the re-certification of the unit by the auditors, the unit re-opened and has now returned to full capacity.
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