The Sterile Services Unit at King George Hospital is responsible for cleaning, sterilising, checking, packing and distribution of hospital theatre and other equipment. Their area spans Barking, Havering and Redbridge hospitals NHS trust. TSSU also provides services for many private clinics and hospitals in the area. The unit is extremely busy and in early 2005 the building was extended. As part of the refurbishment project Jim Harold, Security Manager for Barking, Havering and Redbridge decided that access control should be installed.
Jim explains his concerns: "The unit is responsible for the efficient handling and cleansing of surgical instruments. These are tracked via barcodes, from when they come in our doors, through our sterilisation process, to despatch and onwards. After use at the various hospitals the instruments are delivered back to us and are scanned back in. The process starts again. Full traceability is required on every stage of the work carried out in Sterile Services. At any point in time we know where each theatre tray is. The service is audited at regular intervals to ensure our high standards and complete traceability are maintained."
"It is important that we ensure access to the building is restricted to staff only. We are not prepared to risk outsiders entering and contaminating any of our clean areas, sterile equipment or interfering with our systems."
"It is important that access is restricted to staff only"
Having discussed specific requirements with the manager of the T.S.S.U. Jim called in Martin Wallis of Globe Security to assess the job. Martin recommended Net2, a PC based access control system from Paxton Access. Martin explains, "They needed a system which would give flexible control over users' permissions, some areas would need to be restricted to certain authorised staff. There was also a requirement to know who was in the building at all times. This needs a system that can support in/out door readers, and anti-passback. Net2 fitted the bill. I use Net2 on a lot of projects, the system and the back up from Paxton are great."
The project was put out to tender and Globe Security won the job. Jim was pleased, as Globe Security have undertaken several projects in the Trust's control. They also hold the maintenance contract for all of the security systems in Jim's remit. He finds them to be conscientious and reliable. Jim adds, "The choice of system was driven by price, but also by the simplicity of use and the functions within the software that would meet the manager's requirements."
"The choice of system was driven by price, but also by the simplicity of use"
Net2 controls access on 8 doors and 1 gate on the site, with a door to the laundry due to be added via TCP/IP. Martin says, "Installation was pretty straightforward. Training Laura Smith the unit manager, who administers the system, took very little time. She was confident in about half an hour. The desktop reader really is a bonus when dealing with a large number of users. Tokens are read into the software, and the appropriate access level given according to department."
What benefits has Net2 brought to the operation? Jim says, "Our key requirement of preventing unauthorised access to the building has been solved. We operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and need to be secure at all times. In addition we have some areas restricted purely to the staff that work in them. "
"Delivery drivers for example, may come into goods in between 7am and 12pm, but cannot access the first floor of the building at any time. On the stores area, permissions are only granted to stores operatives and shift managers. Cleaners' access is also restricted to certain times and areas. The gowning rooms which staff use for changing into their work overalls are segregated by gender. The access permissions on these doors are set accordingly. We use a lot of agency staff so being able to grant access for limited periods is also very useful."
The pedestrian gate has metal vandal resistant readers on both sides of the gate, staff have to present a valid token to enter or depart the site. This gate is set up in the Net2 software for anti-passback. This means that if a member of staff leaves without presenting their token to the out reader, then when they try and enter the premises again their token will not allow them access. The main front entrance to the building is controlled in the same way. If an alarm situation occurs then a report can be produced, which shows who is on the site or in the building. Jim adds, "It also helps Laura Smith keep track of time and attendance."
"The laundry building is within the same complex as the sterile cleaning service. Laundry staff tokens allow them access through the pedestrian gate, but not into the TSSU building. An advantage of this is that we also know who is on site in the laundry should we have an alarm event."
"Staff know that they can only enter or depart; if logically they should be inside or outside the area"
The pedestrian gate is adjacent to the drivers' entrance. In the past there had been concern that staff wandering in and out of the drivers' gate created a risk of accidents. The anti-passback on the pedestrian gate has solved this issue, as staff now know that they can only enter or depart, if logically they should be inside or outside the area.
The system has provided unforeseen benefits. Jim explains, "We had a theft from the IT department. We asked Globe Security to secure the IT area with Net2. The next time we had a problem we let it be known that from the Net2 software we could check who had been into the department and when. The goods were returned within 24 hours."
Net2 has been controlling access on the Sterile Services Unit since March 2005. Jim says, "The managers are happy with how Net2 works and the security it gives. If they were not I would soon hear about it! They are very busy and need a system which protects the premises, but is not time consuming to administer."
Martin from Globe Security is pleased with the job. Martin says, "I do a lot of work in the hospitals, installing most types of security systems. We are NICEIC approved for electrical installation so can handle most of the requirements on a site. Net2 from Paxton is my preferred access control system. It does everything my customer's need. They have no issues with learning how to manage the system."
Would Jim use Net2 in other areas of the NHS trust? "Yes indeed. We already have it on some of our clinics. In fact it will soon be running on the staff car parks at King George's Hospital."