NHS staff discover 100’s of “rogue items”


By Melissa Clark


LAUNDRY workers at a NHS hospital have revealed some of the “rogue” items that turn up amid the sheets and blankets.

Three Teletubbies, nine bags of urine, a bottle of morphine, 22 pairs of scissors, 10 mobile phones, seven TV remote controls, two blood samples and 20 watches have all been found by laundry staff at St John’s in Livingston, West Lothian.

Needles and blood-soaked linen have also been discovered amongst the 30,000 items washed within the past six months.

Some of the items discovered by staff, including needles, have posed a health risk to them.


A fresh warning has now been issued to staff in a bid to drive the numbers down and keep staff safe.

Eddie Egan, NHS Lothian’s former employee director and vice chairman, explained that he has been trying to sort this worrying issue for 12 years, to no avail.

He said: “A lot of effort has been made but it’s never sustained. It’s obviously not enough.

“Nicola Sturgeon has been to the laundry, the chairman has been to the laundry and the director of HR has been to the laundry, but we keep getting these rogue items.

“People aren’t trying to sabotage the laundry workers and there’s 10,000 reasons that it might be happening, but the bottom line is it shouldn’t happen and people should not put their colleagues at risk.”

On average seven items a month, which could pose an infection or health and safety risk to staff, have been found despite being scanned prior to being handled by staff.

It is believed that on previous occasions the department has ground to a halt when bloody items are being exposed to workers while cleaning takes place.

Some lost items have been returned to wards but often a lack of tags means that it is impossible to find out where the items have come from.

Alan Boyter, the health board’s director of human resources and organisational development, said: “NHS Lothian is committed to providing a safe environment for all our staff and all

instances of inappropriate items found in the laundry are avoidable. We take this issue very seriously and it is not acceptable that staff are being put at risk.

“We have strict guidelines in place to help protect our staff, and we work closely with ward staff to ensure these procedures are followed.

“On average we have managed to reduce the number of inappropriate items received but there is a fluctuating trend and we are working hard to level this out.”