SMTL Blog

In Winter 2020, SMTL were asked to chair a group (the NHS Transparent Face Mask Working group)  brought together by NHS E&I (NHS England and NHS Improvement). to produce a technical specification for transparent face masks, to meet a demonstrated demand for transparent face masks at the time of writing (Spring 2021).  The group met between Jan and March 2021,
 
The aim of the group was to produce a  technical specification, based on test methods and some of the design and performance requirements in established standards, for transparent face masks, some of which could be considered for use as an alternative to Type IIR medical masks.

The final specification has now been published, and gives design and performance requirements for single-use TRANSPARENT FACE MASKS which are intended to provide comparable protection and source control to some or all of the properties of a Type IIR medical mask, using test methods and performance requirements from existing standards, whilst adapting them due to the transparency requirements.  It is important to recognise that masks complying with the technical specification cannot be referred to as Type IIR medical masks, as that term is defined in EN 14683:2019 and is reserved for products meeting the definition of a medical device that also comply wholly with the requirements for Type IIR medical masks in that standard. Masks complying with the new technical specification may, however, meet some of the requirements of EN 14683:2019.

The specification is available from the gov.uk web site.

The group note that due to the rate of development in this emerging field, further revision of the specification may be necessary later this year.
COVID-19 continues to be a challenge for the NHS and the UK in general.  This has required SMTL to shift our focus and develop a range of new services to our stakeholders.  We have been heavily involved in providing Technical Assurance,  medical device testing and PPE testing services for the NHS, Welsh Government, the Department of Health and Industry.  In particular, we have been supporting our colleagues in NWSSP Procurement Services.
 
During the difficulties of 2020, SMTL has been able to maintain our extensive schedule of accredited tests and testing services, whilst also ensuring the welfare of our employees.  We have been able to expand our knowledge and skill base and increase capacity with the recruitment of additional staff.
 
We would like to thank all of our customers and stakeholders for your continued support, and we would like to reassure new and existing customers that we are continuing to provide our testing services as normal.
 
Please review our web site for our routine services, or email info@smtl.co.uk if you have a specific medical device/PPE testing query.

In October 2020  SMTL hosted  their first virtual UKAS annual inspection.

During a two day process the inspectors watched SMTL staff test medical devices whilst being filmed using Android tablets.

The aim of the inspection is to ensure that SMTL complies with our QMS (Quality Management System) and adhere to the requirements of ISO 17025, the international standard for testing labs.

The two inspectors covered the fields of physical and biological testing, inspecting a variety of paperwork, test reports,  projects, training records, calibration certificates and inter-laboratory proficiency tests.

The inspection went well, with a small number minor improvements suggested.  The inspectors complimented SMTL on their management and control of testing, and recommended that SMTL maintain their accreditation status subject to closing out the observations.

SMTL's latest UKAS accreditation schedule is available to down load from the UKAS website (PDF download), and our UKAS certificate of accreditation (web link) is now also available electronically.

The SMTL Quality Assurance department has recently completed a testing programme for the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board at the new Grange University Hospital in Cwmbran.

The Grange University Hospital is a brand new hospital with 470 inpatient beds (around 560 including trolley spaces) located near Cwmbran for people across Gwent who need highly specialised services including critical care.

SMTL were tasked with the airborne microbiological testing of all Operating Theatres & other controlled Clean Rooms at the Grange University Hospital to validate the cleanliness of all commissioned Theatres prior to use.

The project went extremely well and within schedule. Eighteen Theatres were tested in total, and to date all are performing within expected parameters. The hospital is expected to open ahead of the original schedule on 17th November 2020.

On 5th August 2020, the BBC visited SMTL to film some of the PPE testing which SMTL have been undertaking for NHS Wales, the wider NHS and UK industry. Laura Price from SMTL's physical testing team was filmed undertaking linting testing of gowns, and SMTL's Director, Pete Phillips,  gave an interview covering the types of problems we had uncovered in recent months, as well as the benefits of sourcing PPE from local manufacturers.

A number of video clips were shown on  BBC Wales News throughout the day,  an article and video footage was available on the BBC Wales website, and a short radio interview was given by Pete to BBC Radio Wales on the drivetime programme at the end of the day.

 

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