Busy Hospitals Put Electrical Safety to The Test

Versatile electrical appliance testing technology is helping one of the largest hospital trusts in the country to maintain the highest standards of safety.

The Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Trust runs both Cheltenham General and Gloucestershire Royal Hospitals, providing high quality acute elective and specialist care for a population of more than 600,000 people.

Dedicated portable appliance test engineers based at both hospitals as part of the trust’s medical engineering department are using the latest Seaward test equipment to ensure that electrical equipment and appliances do not pose a danger to users.

The in-house PAT engineers, both qualified electricians, are responsible for testing all types of electrical appliances used in the wards, theatres, offices, kitchens and laboratory areas with the exception of specialist patient-connected medical equipment.

Newly purchased equipment and electrical items brought into the hospitals by patients, such as TVs and laptops are also tested before they can be used.

Given the different environments and activities on the hospital sites, there is an extremely wide variety of electrical equipment in use. In total some 15,000 appliances are tested each year in Cheltenham General Hospital and 18,000 items in the larger Gloucester Royal Hospital.

With responsibility for such a large number of appliances, to manage workloads effectively and ensure proper procedures are maintained, the in-house test team operates an integrated PAT programme that links equipment testing to comprehensive test records and a central asset management database for each hospital site.

At the centre of the hospitals’ preventative maintenance approach is the Seaward Apollo 600 tester, supported by the specialist PATGuard 3 results management software.

This multi-purpose PAT tester combines electrical inspection and testing with sophisticated safety data collection features. The battery powered and lightweight tester includes all of the electrical safety tests required by the IET Code of Practice to enable duty holders to meet their electrical safety responsibilities in a safe, simple and effective manner.

At Gloucester Royal and Cheltenham General hospitals, the visual inspection of all plugs, leads and appliances is followed by formal electrical testing.

Any visual defects such as cable or plug damage are recorded with the instrument’s onboard digital camera and the images tagged alongside the test results before being stored in the PATGuard 3 program.

As well as recording asset details and test results in the tester’s internal memory, data produced by the electrical safety testing procedures is downloaded into a central PATGuard software management system, enabling full safety records to be maintained and advance tests to be scheduled.

Clive Winter, portable appliance tester for Cheltenham General Hospital, said: “In a hospital environment, the rigorous inspection and testing of all on-site electrical equipment is an essential and ongoing safety requirement.

“With such a large number and wide variety of appliances in use across both hospitals, the ability to link comprehensive inspection and testing with traceable results and a central asset register has been vital in enabling us to manage our workloads efficiently.”

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