Work begins on new £5m decontamination unit


The new sterilisation plant will clean surgical instruments for Colchester General Hospital, UK

Artist impression of the new Hospital Sterilisation and Decontamination Unit (HSDU) at Colchester General Hospital

Work has begun on a £5m project to build a state-of-the-art unit to sterilise surgical instruments at Colchester General Hospital and Essex County Hospital.

The Hospital Sterilisation and Decontamination Unit (HSDU) will be located next to the Old Boiler House on the former Turner Village site on the edge of the Colchester General Hospital site. It will replace the existing facility, which is in the hospital’s Main Block and will be equipped with brand-new state-of-the-art equipment.

The HSDU re-processes instruments and equipment required for clinical intervention in the treatment of patients. The majority are theatre instrument sets which are cleaned and decontaminated, inspected, packed, sterilised and returned for re-use. Nick Chatten, Special Projects and Estates Director for Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Colchester General Hospital and Essex County Hospital, said it was a significant investment.

“The Trust has outgrown its current HSDU and this replacement unit will be bigger,” he said.

“When it is complete, it will mean Colchester will have one of the most efficient HSDUs in the NHS East of England region.

“For example, the new major re-processing equipment will benefit from the latest advances in technology and substantially reduce water consumption in comparison to the machines currently in use, resulting in an eco-friendly addition to the Trust’s estate.”

The main contractors for the project will be Rose Builders Ltd of Lawford and the new unit is scheduled to become operational in July next year. Its cost will be funded entirely from the Trust’s own resources.

The Trust has 34 whole-time equivalent staff working at its HSDU. During weekdays, cover is provided 24 hours a day with day shifts at weekends. The location of the new unit away from the main hospital will mean that it can be built without any major impact on the rest of the hospital.