SMTL Blog

SMTL has had a number of staff changes since the Summer of 2021.  

In the SMTL Office, Jade and Elaine have now taken over joint management of the office as a job share, and Emma Willett joined the office team in August.

In the Summer we said goodbye to Jotika Ramnik Halai who secured a job in London with Public Health England. We wish Jotika the very best in her new role. 

The Physical Testing department recruited two new members of staff before Christmas - Rhiannon Fulker and Heath Davies. Rhiannon previously worked at L’Oreal and Fillcare and Heath came to SMTL from Swansea Bay University Health Board Mass Vaccination Center.

Quality Assurance has a new environmental monitoring technician, Katie Wilkes. Katie previously worked at the University Hospital of Wales in the Virology department, and now spends a few days each week at various hospitals around Wales testing the environmental conditions in CSSDs and HSDUs. 

Biological Testing has also recruited two new members of staff - Imogen Davies and Tess Leggiero, bringing the department back up to its full complement. Coincidentally, Tess used to work with Katie in University Hospital of Wales, although like many scientists during the pandemic, in recent months she was based in one of the Covid testing labs.  Imogen has joined us from one of Bridgend’s better known Cafes - Thunder Road cafe in Tremains Road. 

The Research and Development department has also had two new staff members - Kambiz Ashar and Tomos Rodrigues. Kambiz joined SMTL after working at the Royal Free Hospital in North London, and Tomos joined SMTL after completing a Masters of Biochemistry at Oxford University. The R&D team are currently working on multiple projects related to PPE procurement for both NHS Wales and for NHS England, as well as providing support for the Evidence Based Procurement Board.

Finally, Lisa Tully left  us this month. Lisa has been working on our residual protein detection project for the last 2 years, as well as helping out in the Biological testing laboratory during the pandemic. Lisa has a new job in North Wales, and we wish her the best of luck, not only in her new job but also with her climbing endeavours, for which she has chosen the perfect location.

We would like to extend a warm welcome to all of the new faces at SMTL.

SMTL undertook a laboratory and manikin-based human factors/usability investigation to identify introducers that could be suitable for clinical investigation. We included six different introducers in laboratory-based assessments (design characteristics) and manikin-based assessments involving the participation of 30 anaesthetists.

Each anaesthetist attempted placement in the manikin’s trachea with each of the six introducers in a random order. Outcomes included first-time insertion success rate; insertion success rate; number of attempts; time to placement; and distance placed. Each anaesthetist also completed a questionnaire. 

The results of the study has now been published in a paper ("An assessment of introducers used for airway management") in Anaesthesia in Dec 2021, coauthored by 4 SMTL staff (Laura Price, Matt Alderman, Gavin Hughes and Pete Phillips).

The paper concluded that the study protocol is suitable for differentiating between different introducers and could be used as a basis for assessing other types of devices.

Safety scalpels are versions of  traditional scalpels which include engineered solutions to reduce the risk of  sharps injury.  They usually employ a retractable blade, a retractable sheath, or a blunt tip to the blade as part of their safety mechanism.

ECRI is an international non-profit organisation that conducts independent medical device evaluations. As a result of her previous work in this area (Ford and Phillips, 2008), SMTL R+D officer Jo Ford was asked to review ECRI's criteria, test methods, product profiles and technology background for a range of safety scalpels assessed by ECRI. The evaluations have now been published in ECRI's online journal 'Health Devices' : Scalpels, July, 2021

Louise Barry recently presented at the Agored Cymru Level 4 accredited education day “Compression Garments in the management of lymphoedema and chronic oedema".

This course was delivered by Lymphoedema Network Wales with support from expert external speakers as well as  patients sharing their experiences of compression garments.  Louise was invited to present on the work SMTL have undertaken in conjunction with Welsh NHS lymphoedema clinicians to independently assess compression garment supplied by manufacturers for NWSSP Procurement Services contracts. 

The EN 13726 series of standards published in the early 2000s cover the test methods for primary wound dressings.  During a systematic review in 2012 it was apparent that a number of test methods were not being used. and other methods needed significant revision to ensure the test results remained relevant to modern dressing design. It was agreed that a full revision of the standard was required to address these issues.

In the intervening period SMTL have been heavily involved in organising the inter-laboratory workstreams, data analysis and subsequently re-writing of the standard, with Pete Phillips (Director of SMTL) chairing the CEN Project Group TC/205/WG15/PG1, under which the Panel operated, and Dr Gavin Hughes (Deputy Director, SMTL) acting as the Editor of the standard.

A new prEN 13726 (Test methods for wound dressings - Aspects of absorbency and moisture vapour transmission, waterproofness and conformability) has been produced which will eventually supersede EN 13726-1:2002, EN 13726-2:2002, EN 13726-3:2003 and EN 13726-4:2003. 

prEN 13726 has been out for enquiry across Europe, and the ballot has recently been approved.  The working group are currently updating the draft standard with comments submitted during the enquiry,  with the aim to have the updated standard ready for the dispatch of formal vote-draft in March 2022. It is anticipated that the standard will be published later in 2022.

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