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Tuesday 29th July, 2014

Letter to Andrew Miller Science & Technology Committee

29th July 2014

Mr Andrew Miller
Science & Technology Committee

Dear Mr Miller

Following the publication of the Science and Technology Committee Report on vCJD transmission, I would like to draw your committee’s attention to the technology we at Synoptics Health have developed with Queen Mary University, London which can accurately detect microgram amounts of protein on surgical instruments.

Last year, we began producing our fluorescence-based test called ProReveal, which detects where and how much protein contamination is left on surgical instruments after they have been decontaminated – website address: (http://www.synopticshealth.com/proreveal-test/).

ProReveal, which is manufactured in the UK, enables employment of 40 people and was produced in response to a four year study commissioned by the Department of Health to research best practice for decontaminating surgical instruments. The study showed that testing for proteins using fluorescence is the most sensitive method of detection. It also indicated that the existing swab-based Ninhydrin (non-fluorescence) testing technology currently used in many Sterile Services Departments in the NHS and hospitals world-wide is not designed to detect infective levels of proteins such as vCJD on surgical instruments.

We have had support from Dr Julian Huppert, MP with trying to bring the ProReveal to the Department of Health’s attention for the past year and despite them stating that vCJD is a devastating disease and investing in the decontamination study, the Department of Health seems to be ignoring the fact that fluorescence is the best method of detecting protein on reprocessed surgical instruments and continues to allow the use of an ineffective test for detecting proteins.

Last year the Decontamination team at Health Facilities Scotland, NHS National Services Scotland purchased a ProReveal for a Sterile Services Decontamination project. This project is still ongoing. Additionally, ProReveal is already being purchased around the world in places like Norway, Switzerland, Australia, USA, Chile, Italy, China and the Middle East where the importance of accurate residual protein detection has been given a higher priority than in England and Wales.

We believe it is time the Department of Health and the NHS woke up to the factthat taking this matter seriously could contribute to increased safety within the NHS and will result in saving considerable costs. In addition to making ProReveal part of every washer decontamination process it could also be used by Authorising Engineers Decontamination (AEDs) in hospitals to validate the decontamination process. This will lead to Sterile Services Departments implementing more effective cleaning processes, thus reducing the risk of acquiring post-operative vCJD infections from dirty surgical instruments.

I would like to know how and if, your committee would be in a position to help with placing more emphasis on assessing the ProReveal technology by the Department of Health with a view to the NHS adopting it following scientific review. I thank you for your committee’s assistance with this and I look forward to hearing your response.

Yours sincerely

Paul Ellwood
Managing Director