Hospitals use a wide-variety of medical equipment every day in the diagnosis and treatment of patients. From the basic thermometer to cutting-edge equipment such as ventilators which keep people alive, without them many procedures or medical interventions would not be possible.
Gloucestershire Managed Services’ (GMS) Medical Engineering team ensures that this vital equipment is maintained to medical standards and tested regularly. Each piece of equipment has to be reliable to ensure clinicians and patients are getting the best equipment for their needs.
Laurana Milliner, Specialist Engineer based at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital said, “The hospitals rely on the equipment working correctly and that’s what makes our role as medical engineers so critical. If the piece of equipment doesn’t work correctly, patients won’t get the right diagnosis or the care that they need, it’s a big responsibility. But no piece of equipment is more important than another; it just depends on the circumstances of use.”
Every piece of equipment is put through a simulation exercise before it is allowed to be used on patients. The team acceptance test it under different scenarios to ensure it meets specific standards, once the team is satisfied it can be used on the wards.
Over the past six months the team have been busier than ever in their response to COVID-19 and helping Cheltenham General and Gloucestershire Royal Hospitals prepare and ensure resilience. This includes installing and testing equipment in the Emergency Department and Critical Care, particularly for oxygen supply and monitoring. They have also advised and assisted on the purchase of new equipment and even helped with the logistics of bringing in equipment from private hospitals for use in the Trust.
The team pride themselves as being customer focused and as responsive as possible, and the provision of a 7-day service and an out-of-hours on call service had been particularly well received during this challenging time. In addition to the extra work that COVID-19 has brought, the team repairs and services hundreds of devices each week. They also manage Medical equipment libraries on each site, containing about 2500 medical devices shared among most clinical departments, such as Hoists, Infusion pumps, Thermometers and Air Mattresses. To ensure the safety of staff and patients, medical engineering also perform around 20,000 Portable Appliance Tests a year on Non-Medical Equipment throughout the trust.
Anthony Hall, Senior Medical Engineer has worked in the department based in Cheltenham since he joined as an apprentice in 2015. He said “The work is really rewarding and varied; you never know what type of equipment you’re going to get through the door. If you’ve got a logical mind, medical engineering can be really fascinating. The work can also be challenging sometimes, as equipment gets older it’s much harder to maintain and to source the right parts – so it’s always nice to receive new equipment with advanced up to date technology to work with instead!”
As well as having busy jobs, both Anthony and Laurana are members of the GMS Staff Forum and represent Medical Engineering. The Forum enables staff from different GMS departments to share ideas, get involved in GMS-wide projects and strategy. Both engineers agree that this has added extra interest to their roles and that it is “important to have a voice”.
The supportive and skilled team at both sites is clearly one of the things that they value the most. Laurana said, “As a team, we’ll always do our best and go above and beyond. I’m particularly proud of the way we’ve all worked as a team during the past six months; we’ve pulled our resources and worked hard to get the job done.” Anthony agrees, “We’ve got a really good team from a variety of backgrounds including medical, TV and sound, military, car mechanics, GCHQ, retail and the oil industry, and we all have different specialist skills. Between us we work together to fix a problem and we’ll always find a solution.”
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