Cockroaches and silverfish among 10 hygiene fails at one of biggest hospitals in Scotland

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COCKROACHES, silverfish insects and black mould were all found in the kitchen area of a major Scottish hospital during a random check.

The kitchen area of the Western General in Edinburgh – one of the country’s major cancer treament centres – was judged to be an “ideal habitat” for cockroaches.

And following the inspection, the hospital was marked as ‘Improvement Required’ by Food Standards Scotland.

The check was carried out in April this year but has only now been revealed following a Freedom of Information request.

Disturbingly, the cockroaches were discovered just two years after the same insects were discovered in the kitchen at the same hospital.

The full report from the inspection noted a total of ten contraventions of Food Standards Scotland regulations.

Other issues highlighted included flaking walls, dirty chopping boards and damp plaster.

The report reads: “The design, construction, sitting and size of the boxed in space behind the kitchen dishwashing machine is causing the formation of condensation and undesirable mould on the surfaces.

“The lack of ventilation and heat/ moisture from hot pipes is creating an ideal habitat for cockroaches. 2 dead German cockroaches were seen inside.”

It continues: “Silver fish insects were seen at the radiator in the hall outside the catering offices.”

“The ceiling at the extraction fan above the kitchen dishwasher was affected with black mould growth.”

The report also notes: “The walk-in freezer has been clad internally in stainless steel. Ice is building up between the wooden door frame and the cladding. Condensation is causing mould growth.

“There was no access to the prest control computer database and no recent records of pest control visits were available.

“The walls of the staff tea kitchen were damp and plaster was flaking off.”

The report added: “Some wall tiles in the dish wash area were cracked.

“Some chopping boards (mainly green) were badly scored and difficult to clean.

“Dust is accumulating on the cable/ gas conduit runs in the centre of the main cooking range. Adequate cleaning is not being undertaken. This could fall into food being cooked in close proximity.”

The report concluded: “The mobile wash hand basin unit at the canteen severy was not provided with paper towels for hand drying and as it is in a hidden position did not appear to be used.”

Silverfish are small wingless objects that consume household objects such as carpet, clothing, coffee, dandruff, glue, hair, paper, plaster, and sugar to survive.

They can live for over a year without eating, and thus, eradicating them from households often proves difficult.

The term “black” mould is often used to refer to the Stachybotrys species of mould.

It can cause respiratory problems such as chronic coughing, and irritation of the throat, along with headaches and eye soreness.

The report recommends that a “pest control contractor must survey and treat areas out with food handling areas to protect food areas from pests.

“The ceiling requires to be suitably cleaned and painted.”

It also states that the area behind the dishwasher should be “opened up and kept clean like the rest of the kitchen. Alternatively light and ventilation could be introduced into this long thin room.”

George Curley, Director of Facilities, NHS Lothian, said: “We take food hygiene and safety extremely seriously and have robust processes in place to maintain high standards across all of our premises.

“Following this unannounced inspection in April immediate actions were taken to address each of the issues it raised. We have improved the environment around the boxed in area at the back of the dishwasher and our pest control contractor, who carries out regular monitoring, has increased its surveillance.

“Our catering staff carry out daily hygiene inspections and follow strict cleaning regimes which are checked and signed off by site management on a daily basis.

“We have taken the outcome of this report extremely seriously and further enhanced our already stringent procedures to maintain high levels of cleanliness across all of our kitchens.”

The Western General Hospital houses around 570 in-patients and is one of Scotland’s leading breast cancer treatment centres. It recently became home to a £1.35 million facility for young cancer patients, aged 16 to 24.

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