What is the team’s name, department and purpose? Which site are you based?
Medical Engineering is based at both the Children’s and Women’s sites. The department is responsible for the maintenance, repair and management of medical equipment within the Trust, safeguarding both patients and users from any risk that may occur while using medical devices. We additionally provide technical and clinical support to clinical areas. Part of the Medical Engineering function is the Managed Equipment Service (MES). The MES supports the Trust in the selection, purchase and installation of medical equipment from O2 flowmeters to ultrasound machines. We also help the Trust plan the capital equipment replacement programme and advise what equipment is due for replacement (we control an asset management database of all Trust equipment), help get the best value from suppliers and identify solutions for the Trust.
How long have team members worked for Vital Services/ the Trust? What are the various job titles?
Our newest member of staff has been with us for a little over a month and our longest serving member forty years. We have sixteen members of staff in total and over two hundred years’ worth of experience throughout the team, consisting of Senior to Assistant level Medical Engineers and Administrators.
How would the team describe a typical day/ shift at work? How does the team plan their day?
The Medical Engineers spend their day responding to medical equipment repairs and servicing. There are over 15,000 pieces of equipment on our database to look after. We have over 40 service contracts with external contractors to cover maintenance on the specialised equipment we manage, such as X-Ray machines or MRI scanners. The Trust purchased around 1,000 new pieces of medical equipment last year, which included 40 items funded by charity. We acceptance test each newly acquired medical device be it purchased or on loan to the Trust for a clinical trial to ensure it is safe to use. The planned maintenance of equipment is scheduled for items throughout the year which takes approximately 40% of our time. 30% of our hours are taken up by the clinical support we provide, such as assisting in setting up Nitric Oxide equipment and in attending Laser surgery cases, plus technical support like helping set up Ultrasound scanners. The remaining 30% is spent repairing equipment and ad-hoc requests – literally anything that requires a screwdriver! Our administrators, field repair request calls from clinical staff, raise orders for the maintenance contracts and the hundreds of parts we use, liaise with contractors and wrangle a myriad of other tasks to help keep the engineers going.
Describe the pace at which the team works – what do they enjoy most about their work?
Our days can be very busy responding to urgent breakdowns – a slow response could delay the start of an operating list, which would have a knock on effect throughout the day. We also prioritise the servicing of equipment throughout the Trust to ensure it is safe to use and within calibration; this involves using test equipment to ensure the device is measuring accurately. The department operate an on call system for both sites to provide urgent repair to equipment when spare equipment is not available outside of the normal working day. Staff enjoy the variation of work involved in looking after equipment – no day is the same.
What skills do the team need/ have to manage the work successfully?
Medical Engineers require good communication and planning, analytical skills and the ability to adapt. They usually have a background and qualification in Electronic Engineering. They also need good sturdy shoes to cope with the miles they do looking for equipment!
What’s an accomplishment the team is really proud of?
We feel we are a valued and trusted department within the Trust, particularly following the merging of the two Women’s and Children’s hospitals and the two Medical Engineering departments became one team. This allowed us to offer greater experience on a wide range of equipment. The team has also been instrumental in supporting improvements in the capital replacement programme, working with the Clinical Divisions identifying equipment that requires an upgrade and sourcing more suitable equipment. This year the budget is nearly £3.5m.
Not a lot of people know this about the team’s work…
Until a person starts to work in a hospital they have no idea that Medical Engineers exist, let alone know the broad spectrum of skills and help we provide. One day we could be working in theatre alongside the wider clinical teams assisting them to move temporarily by decommissioning and recommissioning equipment because fire-stopping work is required in their area.
Comments from Jason Marston, Head of Medical Engineering
All team members are dedicated, hardworking and always happy to provide assistance. I am very proud of the team’s dedication during the pandemic. We split into three different teams to ensure that if one group of staff had to isolate, we could backfill to ensure continuation of service. We even had a staff member, who had previously retired and returned to work part time, revert back to full time hours to cover staff needing to isolate.