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Six decades of changing practice and thinking

Leading microbiologists from the Central Sterilising Club look back at some of the key developments in surgical instrument decontamination over the past six decades.

Leading microbiologists with extensive experience in the field looked back at some of the key developments in surgical instrument decontamination over the past six decades, recalled some of the lessons learned, and recounted a number of the most memorable incidents from their careers, during the Central Sterilising Club’s 60th Anniversary Annual Scientific Meeting in Stratford-Upon-Avon earlier this year. Louise Frampton, editor of HEJ’s sister publication, The Clinical Services Journal, reports.

High on the agenda at the Central Sterilising Club (CSC) Annual Scientific Meeting was the need to drive improvement and learn from the mistakes of the past, while approaching today’s problems with the discipline of a science, informed by guidance and evidencebased practice. At the same time, decontamination professionals must also remain vigilant, scanning the horizon for new threats and challenges – whether it is the next pandemic, difficult-to-reprocess new technologies, or tackling the healthcare sector’s significant contribution to climate change. 

The first opening sessions – introduced by CSC chair, Jimmy Walker – were delivered by Robert C Spencer, a retired microbiologist who has occupied senior positions within the NHS, Health Protection Agency and Public Health England; Geoff Ridgway, who was previously a consultant in clinical microbiology at UCLH, a member of the Committee on CJD incidents (among others), and past chair of the CSC; and Peter Hoffman (Kelsey lecturer), who recently retired from being a consultant clinical scientist with the UK Health Security Agency. 

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