Ensuring safe NHS access by sales staff


New accreditation scheme designed to ensure safe access by sales staff to NHS premises

More than 5,000 representatives from over 150 MedTech companies have signed up to the Medical Industry Accredited (MIA) scheme designed to ensure safe access by sales staff to NHS premises and, in particular, sensitive clinical areas.

The scheme, sponsored by the Association of the British Healthcare Industries and run by Wellards, is being rolled out across the UK to ensure appropriate interactions between industry and the NHS, and to raise training standards.

Staff signed up to the scheme are made fully aware of their responsibilities to the NHS.

The MIA scheme is a free login system for the NHS and provides assurance that visiting industry personnel are properly trained to enter clinical areas. The training courses and qualifications that lie behind the scheme have been fully accredited by professional bodies, such as the Royal College of Nursing and the Association for Perioperative Practice. Course content is updated on an ongoing basis.

There is also formal support from bodies such as the Association of Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland; Barema - the trade association for anaesthetic and respiratory equipment; OPTIC (UK) - the ophthalmology industry association; and the Surgical Dressing Manufacturers Association.

MIA allows the health service to check the credentials of visiting medical technology industry staff. Each visitor's ID card can be checked on the internet. Keying in a code confirms the person's details, including their name, company, job title, photo ID and evidence of up-to-date accredited training. ID cards are renewed every year, but information can be updated in the interim.

Increasingly, hospitals are asking for evidence from industry representatives and service engineers who need to be in operating theatres or acute care settings. Companies have a duty to ensure that staff are properly qualified for the roles they perform, particularly in areas where they have contact with patients. Similarly, hospitals need to ensure that everyone entering care settings is appropriately qualified and has received accredited training.

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The MIA scheme provides a national solution to this problem and its implementation and maintenance will cost the NHS nothing. Information only needs to be registered once and repeated gathering of details about an industry visitor can be avoided.