SMTL have been hosted by ABMU HB (Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board) since its inception in 2009, having previously been hosted by ABMU's predecessors. In 2015, Neil Frow (Managing Director of NHS Wales Shared Services Partnership) wrote to Paul Roberts (Chief Executive of ABMU) requesting the transfer of the Surgical Material Testing Laboratory from ABMU into NWSSP.  The last year has involved detailed discussions between SMTL, ABMU and NWSSP, and recently it was agreed that everything was in place for SMTL to change their hosting organisation from October 1st 2016.

Initially, SMTL's clients will see very little difference, as the laboratory will continue to be located at Princess of Wales Hospital in Bridgend.  The main difference commercial customers will see will be a different billing organisation and address (NWSSP rather than ABMU).  Over the coming months you will also see some slight changes in the livery of web pages and reports to reinforce the new relationship with NWSSP, and in the longer term we anticipate that new services will be developed to support NHS Wales patients and staff, and in particular new initiatives from NWSSP procurement to purchase safer and more effective medical devices.

SMTL and the Procurement arm of NWSSP have a long and fruitful history, extending back over 30 years to the late 1970's when the Welsh Office funded the original Dressings QA Pharmacist post at East Glamorgan Hospital to support Welsh Procurement. SMTL's success has also been bound up with Mid Glamorgan Health Authority and its successors (Bridgend and District NHS Trust, Bro Morgannwg NHS Trust, ABM University NHS Trust, and now ABMU HB), which allowed us the freedom to create innovative services (such as the Biosurgery Research Unit for maggot debridement of wounds) and develop test methods for medical devices which are recognised internationally.  We would like to thank everyone at ABMU for supporting us through the last few decades, and look forward to a new and exciting era working with colleagues at NWSSP. 





NWSSP and SMTL have been developing the use of Android tablets, specifically the Tesco HUDL, in association with Dr Ben Sharif, a trainee doctor in South Wales, as data collection devices for clinicians to use when undertaking product assessments, either as parts of formal Human Factors Usability testing or in their clinical practice. In particular, we have been using the Open Data Kit (a free and open-source set of tools which help organizations author, field, and manage mobile data collection solutions).

NWSSP Procurement Services (ProcS) utilised this system in the recent All Wales Wound Management tender process, providing Tissue Viability Nurses with devices to record their user evaluation results when using a range of different dressings. The system also allowed ProcS to monitor progress and coordinate the evaluations across Wales. The use of the digital forms also eliminated data entry errors, through the use of pre loaded information and, saved many weeks of data entry time when compared to entering data from paper forms.

Over 3000 completed forms were returned via the HUDL devices during the project, making the project one of the most robust in terms of data to support procurement choices and ensure the highest quality of dressings being purchased for patients in Wales.

SMTL & ProcS have subsequently also utilised the same system as part of the data collection element for a usability study on Airway Bougies as part of a Difficult Airway Society (DAS) grant funded study. The study, which involved bougies from around half a dozen manufacturers and 30 anaesthetists, made use of the HUDLs by collecting both the Clinicians and the Observer’s data during the study. This greatly improved the quality and timeliness of the data collection.


SMTL, alongside ABMU HB staff and NWSSP Procurement staff have been nominated for the Patient Safety Awards, to be announced in Manchester on 5th July 2016. 

Lymphoedema Network Wales win Procurement: Patient Safety award at the 2016 Patient Safety Awards.

The winners of the 2016 Patient Safety Awards were announced on 5 July at Manchester Central, Manchester, as part of the Patient Safety Congress. The awards are organised by the Health Service Journal and Nursing Times, providing an evening of recognition and celebration for all the organisations demonstrating improved practice and delivery in patient safety.

Procurement Patient Safety 1

Paul Hay, who managed SMTL's Biological Testing section for nearly 40 years retired in April.

Paul started working with the laboratory's founder, Dr Steve Thomas, in 1978, when the Mid Glamorgan Quality Control Laboratory (the predecessor of SMTL) was in its infancy, at various times working out of St Tydfil's hospital, East Glamorgan Hospital, Bridgend General and finally Princess of Wales. 

Paul Hay leaving his office

Paul studied microbiology originally, but went onto develop the capability of the laboratory to perform protein testing of gloves, endotoxin testing of surgical instruments, and cytotoxicity testing of various medical devices, in particular urinary catheters.

Paul co-published a number of papers and articles with Dr Thomas over the years, and cemented the laboratory's role as a centre of expertise for the testing of medical devices, and for surgical dressings and woundcare products in particular.

Outside of the lab, Paul was (and is) a keen runner, completing a number of Marathons including the London Marathon on multiple occasions. As a diabetic, Paul invariably ran to raise money for one of the UK diabetic charities, including the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) and Diabetes UK.  In recent years you may have seen him stewarding at the Millenium stadium in Cardiff, where he has been able to indulge his passion for sport.

We are all going to miss Paul's experience and expertise, but most of all his friendliness. We wish him a long and happy retirement together with Mair (who fortunately for Paul is still working to keep the red wine flowing).

Good luck Paul from all of us here at SMTL.

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