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The importance of maintaining ventilation systems in hospitals and GP surgeries

The importance of maintaining ventilation systems in hospitals and GP surgeries

The Department for Health is responsible for releasing Health Technical Memorandum (HTM) for the best building management practices in healthcare premises. HTM 03-01, entitled Specialised ventilation in healthcare premises, deals with the design and installation of ventilation systems and their ongoing operational management.

The document rightly espouses the importance of ventilation in improving healthcare outcomes. It requires premises managers to understand that patients and staff have a right to expect the best designed, installed, operated, and maintained ventilation system.

The Requirements

There are statutory requirements that must be met, laid out in the Health and Safety at Work Act, COSHH Regulations and Local Exhaust Ventilation. Hospitals have areas that may deal with biological and chemical hazards, and there will be areas containing oxygen-displacing gases.

There are also clinical requirements of the ventilation system. Ventilation is a means of reducing surgical site infections and can be a means of isolating patients who may be a hazard to others or have a lowered immune system and need to be protected from the rest of the hospital.

While there are obviously specialised demands made of a ventilation system for hospitals and some GP surgeries, there is also the building’s functional needs. Any clinical space will experience high stress, high-pressure situations. Patients and staff need the right environment to aid recovery and ensure ongoing wellbeing.

In the time of COVID-19

In the time of COVID-19, the demands for properly ventilated healthcare settings have become even more vital. In April 2020, The Specialised Ventilation for Healthcare Society (SVHSoc) met to consider implications of the airborne virus that has caused a global pandemic.

In theatres, SVHSoc recommends that both laminar flow and conventionally ventilated theatres remain fully operational. The air passing from the theatres is likely to be highly diluted and should not represent a significant risk. However, where possible, the theatre should not be used for 20 minutes after a COVID patient has been treated, and it would be best to schedule such patients at the end of the theatre lists.

The ventilation scheme for theatres should ensure that air supplied to this space is removed within the room and cannot seep out into adjacent corridors.

While there are many technical suggestions laid out in the document SVHSoc.03-V4, the overriding principles include containment of air supply within clinical spaces and the dilution of pathogens present in the air.

Where mechanical ventilation, both supply and extract, is not perceived adequate to protect staff and patients, then a policy of isolation of those infected is suggested. It is vital that this mechanical ventilation does not include the re-circulation of airflows and instead achieves more than five air changes per hour.

Help and Support

The NHS has been our heroes throughout the history of the institution. While we have been more conscious of their support during COVID, the truth is that we have always loved our health service. They are always there.

In times of difficulty, we all need to get on board to offer support. Transcool Systems specialises in designing, installing and maintaining ventilation systems. Contact us today to learn more about how we can support you in your clinical practice.