Hospital patients could face delays because of a limited supply of medical equipment, amid concerns items are missing or can no longer be maintained, it has been suggested.

The "unavailability of safe medical equipment" has now been recorded on the East and North Herts NHS Trust’s corporate risk register as an issue that "may" affect the NHS trust.

Last week, the updated register was presented to a board meeting of the NHS trust, which runs Lister Hospital in Stevenage, the New QEII Hospital in Welwyn Garden City, Hertford County Hospital and Mount Vernon Cancer Centre.


According to that register, planned preventative maintenance has not always been possible because items have been in use or are "unaccounted for".

And some items, it says, are no longer fit for purpose or reliable, due to the end of their maintenance support.

Without action, the risk register suggests that there could be a risk of potential delays to patient care, as a result of the unavailability of safe medical equipment.


But the register also outlines a number of steps that have been taken – and are being planned – to mitigate that risk.

For example, maintenance programmes, it says, have now been shared with clinical leads to ensure the equipment is available for servicing, with policies revised and updated.

And, it says, the NHS trust is drawing up plans for an "equipment amnesty" and a complete survey of "missing" equipment, following an earlier audit that was carried out by an external company.

The register also highlights plans for a new "equipment management  database", and for a radio frequency interaction tagging project.


The updated corporate risk register was noted at the meeting of the NHS trust's board.

In a statement issued by the NHS trust, deputy chief executive and director of finance Martin Armstrong pointed to action that is being taken to address the availability of safe medical equipment.

"Patient safety is our top priority, which includes safe management and maintenance of our medical equipment," said Mr Armstrong.

"We are taking steps to improve our processes for maintaining our medical equipment and ensuring it is safe and fit for purpose."