The Surgical Materials Testing Laboratory (SMTL), based at the Princess of Wales Hospital, tests a range of medical devices for the Welsh NHS, which includes checking the performance of wound dressings, testing gloves for holes, and providing technical advice to Welsh NHS staff about these devices.
The SMTL not only tests and investigates defective devices brought to its attention by the Welsh NHS, but carries out random checks on devices in use to ensure compliance with safety standards.
Health Minister Lesley Griffiths said,
"The Surgical Materials Testing Laboratory (SMTL) has an international reputation for its expertise in testing disposable medical devices, and is the only NHS facility of its kind in the UK, working hand in hand with procurement to ensure devices bought for the Wales NHS meet patient and clinician's requirements and offer value for money."While the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency regulates the safety, quality and performance of medical devices at the point they are first placed on the UK market, there is little formal proactive testing of devices beyond what is done in Bridgend for the Wales NHS."I have called on the UK government to address this shortfall in regulation of products, so patient safety can be assured."The important role of testing medical devices was highlighted most recently during discussions about PIP breast implants. I wrote to the Secretary of State for Health earlier this year, drawing attention to the excellent work being done here at the laboratory in Bridgend. I suggested the UK government, along with other Devolved Administrations, might wish to provide funding to enhance and use the services of the SMTL and thereby take a more proactive approach to the issue of patient safety."