The role of an AE(D) as an expert has become even more critical over the course of the past 18 months, as Covid-19 has challenged new standards for sterilization and decontamination, especially within medical facilities.
At the Institute of Healthcare Engineering and Estate Management (IHEEM), the independent specialist organization who oversees the Healthcare Estates Sector, the ongoing challenges met by and evolution of the AE(D) role has seen them work even harder to ensure that the professionals registered with them are robustly audited.
Similarly, engineering equipment and systems are constantly being reviewed and audited for suitability and effectiveness. IHEEM has laid out a series of guidelines and protocols for its operation in this regard, under the following broad topics:
IHEEM’s governance is underpinned by the Engineering Council, who regularly audit the Institute for policies and procedures around membership and methods of employment. Applications to the Institute and those already registered and practicing must complete CPD activities which are monitored and reviewed by IHEEM, overseen by the Engineering Council.
An independent board at IHEEM carries out the various assessments and application reviews from people looking to become registered IHEEM AE(D) members. The board is comprised of representatives from key policy and regulatory bodies in the sector, including from the Decontamination Technical Platform (DTP), Devolved Administrations, the Institute of Decontamination Sciences (IDSc), the Pharmaceutical Inspectorate, pathologists and microbiologists, the Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), NHSI for reference, with the IHEEM head office as the as secretariat.
Technical focus at the core
The Decontamination Technical Platform is the forum that leads conversations, decisions, reviews of and guidance around all technical matters including the decontamination of reusable medical apparatus and equipment, IHEEM policy documents, technical responses and advice to the other core governance platforms.
Specifically, the DTP leads the decontamination framework for AE(D)s at Eastwood Park encompassing the new registration methods and procedures that verify the candidate’s competency. The framework consists of six main areas.
- Management and generic skills.
- Equipment and processes.
- Roles and responsibilities, and the legal aspects.
- Decontamination fundamentals.
- Standards and national guidance.
- Validation, calibration, periodic testing, auditing, and maintenance
Based on the above, along with rigorous interview processes, CPD checks and reviews, and constant evaluation, new AE(D) candidates are produced, ensuring that those entering the various departments where they will carry out sterilization and decontamination responsibilities are highly-qualified.