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Theatre nursing link

A link was established between theatre nurses in Oxford and KCMC in 2003, when a theatre nurse from Oxford was invited to visit KCMC. This first visit was mostly exploratory, but since then nurses from Oxford have visited each year. Senior theatre nurses from KCMC visited Oxford in 2005 and 2006.

On the initial visit in 2003 it appeared that the Central Sterile Service Department (CSSD) was not operating to full potential, and was being provided with instrument trays that were improperly prepared; this put patients and staff at risk. There was also a shortage of surgical instruments and other issues relating to their cleanliness and re-use that needed to be addressed.

In 2003-2004 surgical instruments were collected in Oxford and sent to KCMC.

Theatre staff at KCMC took a very positive attitude to practice change, and a guideline policy for cleaning and sterilizing instruments was written jointly and presented to the Management Board. The addition of surgical instruments from the UK meant that standard instrument trays could be prepared and instruments tracked, thus minimising the risk of loss.

A visit to Oxford and Northumbria in 2005 by Sister Domina Teba from KCMC, sponsored by the British Council, led to significant changes at KCMC. She went back armed with a change-of-practice package and renewed enthusiasm. Changes were implemented and correspondence continued between Oxford and KCMC by email.

Two Oxford theatre nurses visited KCMC in 2006 and noted a dramatic improvement. Sister Domina Teba ran the CSSD along policy lines that had been jointly prepared. Oxford theatre staff who visited in 2007 found CSSD working efficiently in concert with nurses in the operating theatres. All the changes in practice that had been decided jointly by Oxford and KCMC nurses were being implemented.

Visits by Oxford theatre nurses have dealt with many other issues aside from the maintenance and sterilisation of surgical instruments. Although there have been disappointments as well as successes, continuity year on year has led to friendships and trust being developed. All expenses, other than the airfares of KCMC staff visiting UK, have been paid by Oxford staff themselves. No funding body within or outside the NHS has been involved.