THE unit responsible for sterilising Glasgow hospital equipment has been closed following a damning inspection.

Operations across Glasgow have been cancelled and all work at Cowlairs decontamination unit in Springburn has been stopped after issues were identified with the 'fabric of the facility.'

The unit, which was Europe's most advanced centre of its kind when it opened in 2005, supplies all Glasgow hospitals.

All work will now be transferred to another unit in Inverclyde Royal while the facility is brought up to standard.

A spokeswoman for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, said: "Following an inspection by our independent quality assurance advisers, Cowlairs decontamination unit has been temporarily closed.

"The inspection highlighted a number of issues with the fabric of the facility. Whilst these issues did not directly relate to the unit’s processes for sterilising equipment, the unit has been closed to allow remedial work to be carried out."

Glasgow's hospitals use millions of instruments every year, ranging from single surgical instruments and complex theatre sets, to various items of medical equipment.

All of this instrumentation has to be collected, decontaminated, tested, repackaged, sterilizedand returned to hospital staff quickly to ensure that thousands of patients can be treated each and every day.

The Cowlairs facility is one of the most advanced and environmentally friendly of its type in Britain.

The spokesperson added: "Our overriding priority is our patients. Every effort is being made to ensure that there is capacity using our own unit at Inverclyde and working with neighbouring NHS boards to deliver instruments for the programme of elective and emergency surgery over the days ahead.

"The majority of surgery is progressing as planned.

"Unfortunately we have had to notify a very small number of patients today that their operation has had to be rescheduled and arrangements are being made for these patients to be admitted as soon as possible.

"It is our intention to have the facility back in operation as soon as possible and Health Facilities Scotland's decontamination team are supporting us in this work."

Matt McLaughlin, of Unison Scotland, said: "Staff as always in a time of crisis are going above and beyond, including relocating to other other units to work overtime to try to make sure there is as little impact as possible.

"What this does highlight, at a time when the Scottish Government wants to centralise everything, is that this is what happens when one part of the process stops working efficiently. We  need to have a realistic conversation about contingency and capacity."