Fife hospital needs to clean up act

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By Cara Sulieman

A SCOTS hospital which suffered a series of superbug related deaths has been slammed over its poor hygiene levels in a damning new report.

The Queen Margaret Hospital in Dunfermline, Fife, was slated by inspectors for filthy bedding and dangerously filled bins in a dossier of shame first published today (mon).

The Healthcare Environment Inspectorate said it found that bins earmarked for sharp items had been filled with other waste items, while there were needles protruding from full bins.

During their check visit on January 13 and 14, they were alarmed to find that front line mattresses – including those in A&E – badly contaminated but marked cleaned for use.

“No excuse”

Staff at the disgraced Fife hospital were also discovered to have failed in their own hand-washing procedures and will now attend education classes to make sure that the mistakes aren’t made again.

NHS Fife has vowed to clean up their act, saying that they have an improvement plan in place.

But Shadow Health Secretary Jackie Baillie said there was “no excuse” for the findings, adding that NHS Fife had “failed to learn” from the previous C. Diff outbreak.

In their report, the inspection team said were “particularly concerned” about the state of the bedding in the hospital.

They said that mattresses inspected in A&E were found to be particularly badly contaminated.

The report states: “In one instance, indicator tape used to identify items which are clean and ready to use, had been attached to a clearly degraded and cracked mattress cover and upon closer inspection the mattress was found to be heavily contaminated”.

“Concerns”

Susan Brimelow, HEI Chief Inspector, said that some “good work” had been observed at Queen Margaret.

But she said that there were particular areas of concern.

She added: “Inspectors also identified a number of concerns, including the need for more robust monitoring of cleaning and the need to ensure staff at every level adhere to the national hand washing and dress code policies.”

Yesterday Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said she expected the hospital to urgently improve standards.

She said: “The inspectors have found a number of areas in this hospital where I expect to see urgent action to improve standards and reduce infection risks for patients.

“There are also some examples of good practice for which I commend NHS Fife, but there needs to be a vigorous response to this report.

“NHS Fife has since published an improvement plan and they have given an assurance that all of the action areas identified in the report are being addressed.

“I expect them to make swift progress in implementing the plan and the inspectorate will monitor this through further planned and unannounced inspections.

“We need to ensure that we provide care of the highest quality and do all we can to protect patients from the risk of healthcare associated infections.”

“Immediate action”

But Shadow Health Secretary Jackie Baillie said there was “no excuse”.

She said: “This report raises serious concerns that NHS Fife has still failed to learn the lessons of recent outbreaks of C. difficile.

“There is simply no excuse for patients being given stained bed linen or contaminated mattresses.

“I want to see immediate action from the Scottish Government and the hospital authorities to address the issues raised by the inspectors.

“Patients should have an absolute right to be treated in clean and safe conditions.”

A NHS Fife spokesman said: “We welcome the report from the HEI team following the recent announced visit to Queen Margaret Hospital.

“In particular we appreciate the positive comments made about standards and procedures identified in the report, this will be encouraging to staff who work hard to maintain a high level of service.

“We note the areas where improvement can be made and recognise that improvements can always be made in any process or service.

“We have in place an agreed action plan to take forward the recommendations made and, indeed, work has already commenced in all of them.”

In 2008, 29 patients’ deaths at Queen Margaret Hospital were linked to a C. diff outbreak.

In August that year, a ward was shut down after seven patients were diagnosed with the infection.

And two months later, in October, another ward was shut after four patients contracted the disease.

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