A HOSPITAL unit which was was beset by delays has now been closed for repairs - less than ten months since it finally opened.
Endoscopy sessions at the day case unit at St Luke’s Hospital, in leicester Road, Harborough, have been suspended while checks are carried out on unexplained rust patches appearing on a recently installed decontamination machine, health bosses announced this week.
They say the action has been taken temporarily, as a precaution, but have made no clear indication of when the unit is likely to re-open.
Patients are being offered alternative endoscopy appointments at Melton Mowbray, Hinckley or Loughborough hospitals while the manufacturers of the endoscopy equipment resolve the rust patches.
The facility, which will offer minor procedures such as endoscopies, was meant to be up and running in the summer of 2010 but the project was beset by numerous delays.
Built by Modcon UK in stages the Middle East, it sat for weeks at Tilbury Docks before it was finally craned into position in Harborough in the spring of last year.
But work had come to a complete halt by May and Modcon UK went into liquidation shortly afterwards.
Builders Hallam Contractors were appointed in September to finish the job, and the unit opened in January.
Endoscopy enables a tiny fibre-optic camera to be inserted inside a person’s body to investigate problems inside their bladder, intestine and stomach, for example, with images relayed onto a video screen.
Sometimes endoscopes also allow the operator to retrieve a small sample of the area being examined, in order to view the tissue under a microscope.
Endoscopy outpatient services in Leicestershire are provided by Derbyshire Community Health Services NHS Trust.
Trust spokesperson Jo Furley said: “Patients who’ve had endoscopies recently need not worry. There is no risk to patients. The rust is on the external casing of the decontamination machine and not on any of the equipment we use with patients.
“This is a precautionary measure and we would like to apologise for any inconvenience to local patients while the service is temporarily out of action at St Luke’s.
“We felt it was important to resolve the issue quickly and that has meant asking the makers of the machinery to come in and help us identify why this has happened and make good the rust problems. Our priority is to reopening the service as quickly as possible for patients and the manufacturers are working with us on this as a matter or urgency.
“We will have a clearer idea of the timescales once the manufacturers have been able to investigate and decide on the best course of action. Patient safety comes first and while there is no suggestion that patients have been put at risk in any way, we have a duty to ensure our equipment is of the highest possible calibre and in excellent working order.”
GPs and consultants have been advised of the temporary suspension of endoscopies at St Luke’s and about alternative availability at other Leicestershire hospitals when requesting these procedures for their patients.
The trust says St Luke’s usually runs two endoscopy sessions per week, seeing around 16 patients a week.