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A - Z Services - Hospital Sterilisation and Decontamination Unit (HSDU)

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Who Are We?
The Hospital Sterilisation and Decontamination Unit, (HSDU) is a purpose built unit situated at the Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust Hospital’s main site at Wonford. We employ 56 whole time equivalent staff who work as part of a team to provide an efficient and flexible service of medical device decontamination and sterilisation, ensuring that on a day to day basis, the service meets its operational targets within the quality standards.

Staff work a 37.5 hour week across various shifts, providing the unit with 24 hour coverage, 365 days per year.

HSDU Technicians are required to undertake an internal 12 month training programme, with continual assessment, in order to ensure compliance with ISO 9001:2008, 13485:2003 & EN ISO 13485:2012 as well as Medical Devices Directive 93/42/EEC.

Who Do We Serve?
The HSDU unit was opened in 1996 to provide a round-the-clock service which currently supplies 23 Operating Theatres on site including: Central Theatres, the Princess Elizabeth Orthopaedic Centre, the Centre for Women’s Health, the West of England Eye Unit, Heavitree Day Case Unit and Heavitree Theatres. It also serves the hospital’s Accident and Emergency Department, all outpatient departments and wards in Exeter and the outlying community hospital Theatres and Health Centres including: Axminster, Exmouth, Sidmouth, Tiverton, Honiton, Ottery St Mary, Crediton, Chagford and Okehampton.

What Do We Do?
Technicians are responsible for processing an average of around 5,000 items per week through the department for our service users. The role of reprocessing re-useable medical devices is technically advanced and includes dismantling, cleaning and decontaminating devices; identifying, inspecting and testing the functionality of surgical instrumentation; re-assembling and packaging sets of instruments and finally sterilising items in our porous load steam or gas plasma sterilisers. HSDU Technicians therefore need to be proficient in the operation of washer/disinfectors and sterilisers in accordance with the latest International guidelines as set out in the Choice Framework for Policies and Procedures (CFPP01-01) relating to Sterile Service Departments.


This vital service is known as the “Decontamination Cycle” and plays a major part in hospital infection prevention and control. The HSDU is truly the beating heart of the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital.




HSDU Technicians have an unrivalled knowledge of thousands of instruments used across all specialties of surgery. Staff are trained in the new Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF) level three diploma award, (Formerly NVQ Level Three) in Healthcare Support Services (Decontamination).

The HSDU is fully compliant with and audited against the following quality standards:

Which enable us to provide decontamination, inspection, packaging, moist heat and gas plasma sterilisation of surgical equipment, theatre trays and procedure packs. It also covers stocking of pre-sterile hollowware. These standards ensure that any re-usable medical devices processed by us are fit for purpose and decontaminated and sterilised to the highest standards for the benefit and safety of the patient.

Full tracking and traceability of surgical instrumentation is provided by a computerised system which offers a full audit trail and ‘peace of mind’ that each process is followed correctly and according to international standards.


For more information, please contact: 01392 402037