SCOTTISH hospitals have been plagued by insects and animals, calling pest controllers thousands of times over the last three years.
The health service has had to call pest controllers for a rogue mink on the loose in a hospital corridor, cockroaches in kitchens and wasps in maternity suite .
A freedom of information request revealed NHS staff were forced to call pest controllers thousands of times over the past three years to tackle the pests.
Staff fought with bats, aggressive seagulls and pigeons in changing rooms, along with infestations of mice, rats, flying ants, centipedes, silverfish and maggots.
The volume of pests found in hospitals has raised concerns about a risk of superbugs – which can thrive in areas with hygiene problems.
Professor Hugh Pennington a leading microbiologist, said that while many of the pests are not a health risk themselves, they can indicate hygiene problems.
“If you find cockroaches in a kitchen it shows there is something wrong with the cleaning regime and it leads you to wonder about the potential of food poisoning.”
In NHS Fife alone, pest controllers have dealt with over 100 problems with cockroaches over the past three years, including on wards and in dining rooms at Stratheden Hospital near Cupar.
The board also had to call exterminators to deal with fleas.
NHS Fife also had to deal with a bat in the ward of Lynebank Hospital in Dunfermline, along with rats, ants and centipedes, moths and a squirrel amongst pests.
In Dumfries and Galloway pests included wasps in a maternity suite at the Royal Infirmary in Dumfries.
In the Western Isles Hospital in Stornoway, mice were spotted in the reception area and even in the operating theatre.
In Dundee’s Ninewells Hospital, pests included an aggressive seagull, silverfish and insects biting staff, while health workers at Perth Royal Infirmary were bothered by pigeons in changing rooms.
The mink, capable of giving a nasty bite was spotted at Falkirk Community Hospital in 2011 by a member of staff in a corridor outside offices, NHS Forth Valley said.
“It is understood the have gained entry through the automatic doors but there have been no subsequent sightings,” a spokeswoman said.
At the same hospital, pest controllers were called to deal with nesting seagulls attacking passers-by.
John Lamont, the Scottish Conservative chief whip, called on hospital managers to “get on top of this problem.”
He added: “I appreciate some hospitals are ageing buildings and in rural settings but this is something patients don’t expect to have to worry about.”
The Scottish Government said hospitals kitchens are regularly subject to unannounced and independent inspections.
A spokeswoman said: “We would expect hospital catering facilities to maintain the highest standards of hygiene and cleanliness and any instances of non-compliance are totally unacceptable.
“The key is regular and effective monitoring of catering facilities by health boards.”
Last week a security guard at a bank was chased away by a swarm of wasps who had set off the alarm.
The Clydesdale bank in Haddington, East Lothian, called in pest control experts on Tuesday 29th October to fumigate a wasps’ nest in its roof.
And when a security guard went to investigate the racket, he got the fright of his life on discovering the angry swarm.
Bank staff had left a note on the front door to warn their evening cleaner not to enter the premises – the note advised that the wasps were “dying and very angry”.
But the security guard missed the message on Tuesday night and was left visibly shaken by the encounter with over a hundred angry wasps.