Sturgeon warns hospitals that there is no excuse for bad hygiene

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By Amanda MacMillan

HEALTH Secretary Nicola Sturgeon has slammed bad hygiene in hospitals warning there is “no excuse” for staff not washing their hands properly.

Her remarks come after a report was published by the Healthcare Environment Inspectorate about hygiene standards in St John’s Hospital in Livingston.

Overall inspectors said the standard of cleanliness in 10 of the 11 areas inspected at the West Lothian site had been good.

But the report also found that some staff in ward 21 were not washing or cleaning their hands appropriately when moving between beds or entering and leaving the ward.

The report calls for other improvements including a review of access to clinical sinks in ward areas and better communication of information on healthcare associated infections (HAIs) to patients and the public.

Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said: “I established the independent Healthcare Environment Inspectorate to drive up standards in Scotland’s hospitals because tackling hospital infections is my top priority.

“Today’s report highlights a number of areas of good practice but also found areas where improvement is required.

“I would particularly echo the inspectors’ message about hand hygiene – there really is no excuse for staff failing to comply with hand hygiene procedures given it is recognised as one of the most effective ways of preventing the spread of infections in our hospitals.

“I know NHS Lothian will work with the inspectorate to ensure that all the issues raised are addressed as soon as possible and an action plan is already in place.”

The report highlighted the good practice observed in ward 25, which had been designed to make cleaning easier and provide a clean environment.

The inspectors also found that there was clear and effective communication between ward and domestic staff and mandatory HAI training was in place.

Jackie Sansbury, chief operating officer of Acute Services, NHS Lothian, said: “We are pleased to receive positive feedback from the Health Environment Inspectorate (HEI) team report which confirms that St John’s Hospital is performing well.

“The report singled out several areas of strength and praised staff for the hospital’s overall level of cleanliness and communication between ward and domestic staff.

“There were some areas which can be improved and they are being addressed as a matter of urgency.”

NHS Lothian sent out a further statement which said: “We have been very clear that good hand hygiene is an absolute priority in a ward environment. We have already put further measures in place to improve and audit hand hygiene and results show it has improved.

“We are pleased with the positive feedback from the Health Environment Inspectorate (HEI) team report which confirms that St John’s Hospital is performing well and that overall the standards of cleanliness is good.

“The report also praised staff for the communication between ward and domestic staff. There were some areas which can be improved and they are being addressed as a matter of urgency.”

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