Putting operator experience at the heart of a new isolator suite for the Clatterbridge Cancer Centre NHS Foundation Trust

The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre is one of the UK’s leading cancer centres, serving the population of Cheshire and Merseyside. The centre provides inpatient care, advanced radiotherapy, chemotherapy and new generation treatments such as gene therapies and immunotherapies. Its new Liverpool city centre building was opened in June 2020 and Envair were chosen to supply a range of isolators for the new aseptic pharmacy, which manufactures all the chemotherapy doses for solid tumour cancers.

Rapid gassing isolator at Clatterbridge Cance CentreIn order to build capacity within the pharmacy and increase their work in clinical trials, the Clatterbridge team selected five negative pressure isolators and two rapid gassing VHP isolators, effectively allowing nine people to be working at any one time. This improved capacity has enabled two isolators to be dedicated to trials for advanced therapeutic medicinal products and gene therapy, whilst the remaining isolators continue to be used for batch and individual dose production.

A reputation for engineering and service excellence

Jayne Kelly, Deputy Chief Pharmacist Technical Services and Clinical Trials, explained that the Trust chose to work with Envair because of the company’s reputation for engineering and service excellence. She also appreciated the proactive consultancy she received at the beginning of the project, when Envair’s engineers advised on elements of the isolators that she and her team may not have given consideration to, down to the shape of the glove sleeves and hanging rails.

They benefited from close partnership throughout, which included witnessing factory tests and live demonstrations in the early stages and thorough testing at the point of installation. And the attention to detail has paid off. Jayne says that the team find the isolators especially easy to use, thanks to the vari height work surface, being able to see the countdown to when they can open the hatch, foot pedals and of course, those specially designed glove sleeves which have provided greater operator flexibility.

Commenting on the project, Envair Managing Director Gary Bagshaw said,

“We’re so proud to have played our part in getting this new hospital operational, helping to accelerate Clatterbridge’s important work in clinical trials.”


CDC F range at Clatterbridge Cancer Centre


You can meet the pharmacy team and see the new facility for yourself by viewing this video, courtesy of The Guide Liverpool.


A rapid response to keep COVID-19 testing on line

Although the peak of hospital admissions for COVID-19 has passed in the UK, testing capacity continues to ramp up, placing sustained pressure on pathology and testing services.

In June 2020, an Envair engineer was on site in the molecular lab at Royal Stoke University Hospital conducting 12 month service checks of the Microbiological Safety Cabinets (MSCs) in use there when he noticed that a HEPA filter had failed on one of the Class I cabinets used for COVID-19 testing. This put the cabinet out of use and risked 500 samples per day going untested, because as an ACDP category 3 pathogen, it was not safe to test for the virus using anything other than a Class I system.


With the minimum lead time on a replacement HEPA filter being at least two weeks, the team swung into action to find a solution. Working in partnership with the main contractors Sodexo, Envair identified a partially built class I MSC Bio1+ at our factory in Haslingden, Lancashire. The hospital procurement team pulled out all the stops to approve the budget within hours and the manufacturing team at Envair were redeployed to complete the build, then wire and test the unit ready for same day despatch.

By 3.30pm, the MSC had been handed to Sodexo and after a sprint down the motorway, engineers from both companies began the installation and commissioning of the cabinet with it finally being handed over to the Trust just before midnight.

There were cheers from everyone when COVID-19 testing recommenced at 7am, with less than 24 hours downtime.

Christopher Turner, Estates Manager Environmental at Sodexo commented, “It was critical to get the COVID-19 testing capacity back on line as quickly as possible for the Trust and working as one team, Sodexo and Envair engineers mucked in together and got the job done. This was testament to our strong working relationship and a willingness to act rapidly to respond to an urgent client challenge.”

Envair supports coronavirus treatment efforts

As the COVID-19 pandemic peaks, many hospital pharmacies are experiencing huge pressure to increase their production of drugs needed for treating patients, both those with coronavirus and those with other critical illnesses.

One solution identified by Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is to provide a clean air environment for nurses to make up high volumes of injections for use in their intensive care unit, without needing to further burden the hospital pharmacy.

They contacted Envair, and in a record 10 days, we had specified the solution (our HLF horizontal unidirectional airflow cabinet), delivered, installed and commissioned the unit, all whilst maintaining safe social distancing measures.

We were only too happy to play our small part in helping tackle the crisis and are delighted that the unit is now in use, helping the intensive care nurses treat patients more quickly.

“Our intensive care nurses have needed extra capacity to make up high volumes of injections, due to the high number of coronavirus patients we’re treating. Envair’s HLF workstation provides this clean environment and they responded to our request for help in record time.”


Find out more about the HLF here.

HLF clean air workstation