This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.
ENGINEERING TRAINING Medicalequipmenttraining atheart of‘evolving portfolio’

Gloucestershire-based Eastwood Park says it currently offers an extensive medical equipment training portfolio, ‘as it has done for the last 50 years’. The training establishment said: “The portfolio has evolved over the years, but still has the introductory biomedical equipment maintenance practice course at its core for new medical equipment technicians; it is still viewed as critical training for medical equipment technicians to attend as they start their career in this field – not least because of the breadth of equipment that is showcased independently from

An ‘undervalued’ discipline As he had previously mentioned, Rob Strange believes the value of many in- house EBME departments is simply not recognised. He said: “Some

EBME/Medical Physics teams may only manage a very limited equipment portfolio, but with the right training, this team would be able to service and maintain effectively all the key biomedical equipment itself.” Rob Strange believes that if such a model were adopted across NHS Trusts – and Avensys believes it viably can – the service could save ‘very large sums indeed’, and, more importantly, fulfil the requirement from the Government to upskill the NHS. He said: “To give an idea of the sort of difficulties that some manufacturers saddle the NHS EBME department with – one leading endoscope manufacturer refuses to offer technical training and, as such, picks up lucrative sales and servicing without challenge. Yet why is training not being offered to EMBE engineers, thus allowing NHS in-house engineers to maintain their own equipment at a vastly reduced cost? We at Avensys have established our own endoscopy workshop facility, again proving that it can be done.” One of the key reasons many NHS Trusts continue to rely on what he dubs ‘such an expensive procurement and associated technical service model’, Rob Strange says, is the general shortage of engineering skills in the UK, ‘especially noticeable in EBME departments’. He said: “The lack of both appropriate numbers and skills within NHS EBME departments has been highlighted during the COVID-19 crisis.”

A range of qualifications

He continued: “There are a number of root causes for today’s training and employment issues within NHS engineering departments, including the demise of the NHS training facility at Falfield near Bristol (Eastwood Park) as an NHS facility. Back in the 1980s, this was effectively the only training facility outside the MoD SEAE Arborfield site to specialise in biomedical engineering, with additional facilities that also specialised in the myriad of trades

manufacturers, as well as the physiology and theoretical practices discussed. Shorter courses are offered on a wide range of medical equipment – including electro- cardiovascular, ventilation, and anaesthesia, which remain highly valued, and also include a foundation degree on medical technologies in partnership with Staffordshire University. Eastwood Park’s medical equipment portfolio remains key in its extensive offering of over 100 courses and programmes for the engineering and healthcare sector.”

Engineers from Avensys at the NHS Nightingale Hospital London.

and specialisms that the NHS needed and still needs. Eastwood Park became a private enterprise during the 1990s, and the site still offers a wide range of courses (see top of page). NHS engineers trained at Eastwood Park during the 1970s and 1980s are now coming to the end of their working careers, and yet nothing publicly funded has replaced this once publicly- owned facility until now. Avensys is now proud to be partnering with Dudley College of Technology and thew new Black Country & Marches Institute of Technology (IoT) due to open in 2021.” Located in Dudley, the IoT will – Rob Strange explained – focus on high quality technical education programmes and Advanced Apprenticeships in advanced manufacturing and engineering, modern methods of construction, and medical engineering. He said: “The medical engineering facility will introduce a ‘one- stop-shop’ for all hospital engineering

trades within a modern-day setting (a mock hospital), and in doing so, will bridge the skills gap for the NHS by providing technical training for biomedical engineers.”

Returning to the current day, Rob Strange said “I cannot fathom why, where there are good established EBME departments, whose capabilities you could easily grow through training, Trusts still purchase equipment from manufacturers who refuse to provide technical training for EBME/Med Physics staff (or make such a process very difficult), and who subsequently insist on undertaking the maintenance themselves. Quite simply, if the OEM refuses to provide technical training for in-house staff, then the message should be: ‘Don’t buy its equipment’.”

Difficulties recruiting

Avensys’ many services include managed equipment storage.

I asked him about another issue that concerns him – the difficulties in recruiting trained biomedical engineers. He said: “One of the problems is that many young budding engineers and technicians don’t know or don’t understand what a biomedical, EBME, or Medical Physics engineer is or does; they can’t conceive that in any large hospital, there are engineers who are responsible for maintaining this vast array medical equipment.” He continued: “Avensys is now in partnership with Dudley College, and is helping to develop the ‘mock hospital’ at the new IoT facility, to offer

September 2020 Health Estate Journal 41

Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56  |  Page 57  |  Page 58  |  Page 59  |  Page 60  |  Page 61  |  Page 62  |  Page 63  |  Page 64  |  Page 65  |  Page 66  |  Page 67  |  Page 68  |  Page 69  |  Page 70  |  Page 71  |  Page 72  |  Page 73  |  Page 74  |  Page 75  |  Page 76  |  Page 77  |  Page 78  |  Page 79  |  Page 80  |  Page 81  |  Page 82  |  Page 83  |  Page 84  |  Page 85  |  Page 86  |  Page 87  |  Page 88  |  Page 89  |  Page 90  |  Page 91  |  Page 92