Ipswich: Hospital uses ‘obsolete’ equipment

OBSOLETE equipment is being used at a hospital during complicated keyhole surgery, a new survey has claimed.

The survey, the first of its kind carried out by the Association of Laparoscopic Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland (ALSGBI), looks at the standard of equipment being used in operating theatres across the UK.

The results reveal that a worrying 28% of sites were using obsolete, and in some cases, potentially unsafe equipment.

Laparoscopic surgery is used for almost all gastrointestinal and abdominal operations, bringing patients the benefits of smaller scars, less pain and rapid recovery. Technology has moved on rapidly in recent years and high definition camera equipment provides laparoscopic surgeons with improved image quality.

This has enabled surgeons to undertake more complex procedures and promotes efficiency by shortening operations and preventing surgeon fatigue.

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The survey rated the hospitals using the most up-to-date equipment as “Gold” and those using the obsolete technology – such as Ipswich Hospital – as “Bronze”.

Jan Rowsell, spokeswoman for the Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust, said: “We use state-of-the-art equipment in the vast majority of cases and we imagine this survey was carried out some time ago.”

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She said that because instrumentation was always being replaced and updated, it was probably the case that the equipment had been upgraded since the survey was carried out.

She added: “These classifications (Gold and Bronze) are not ones that we would use. We would say we are using the very latest instrumentation. We would want to give assurances that we would never use ‘obsolete’ equipment. Where we are now is that we are using state-of-the-art instrumentation and are constantly updating equipment to make sure that it reaches the high standards.”

The past president of ALSGBI, Mr Mike Parker, said: “The view from the original laparoscopic cameras was like squinting through a goldfish bowl, in comparison, HD equipment has revolutionised practice. It is unbelievable that some surgeons are still having to use equipment which limits the operations they can perform safely.

“We hope the result of this audit encourages surgeons and management to discuss upgrading their equipment to improve standards and to reassure patients that the best service is being provided.”

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