Sterilisation rule changes will cost £10k per practice

GP practices that sterilise medical equipment on site face increases of more than £10,000 a year in costs when European Union (EU) rules take effect in April, LMC leaders warn.

The rules will force the 90 per cent of practices with in-house sterilisation to adhere to tougher standards for maintaining equipment, training staff and locating it in their practice.

Primary care organisations have to ensure contractors meet the standards, set out in directive 93/42/EEC, from 1 April. Practices should be able to demonstrate that they comply.

A case study by Wessex LMCs has found that a practice that currently faces costs of around £9,500 a year to maintain sterilisation equipment would have to pay around £24,000 to keep it going under the new regulations.

LMC leaders say this can only remain a viable option if practices sell sterilisation services to neighbouring GPs.

The study found that switching to an external sterilisation service would still bring a sharp hike in costs. The practice would face a £16,000 annual bill for its closest service, double its current costs.

However, switching to single-use equipment was a cost-effective alternative.

The cost of single-use kits offered by two suppliers was found to be only fractionally higher than the practice's current costs.

nick.bostock@haymarket.com

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