HEALTH inspectors ordered urgent improvements at St John’s Hospital after traces of blood were found on lamps, walls and worktops in A&E.
A report by the Healthcare Environment Inspectorate (HEI) criticised the cleanliness of equipment as “poor” and demanded senior management take immediate action at the Livingston hospital.
Tests carried out on six trolleys found all of them were “contaminated”, many with bodily fluids, while many mattressess and covers were either broken or stained.
But when inspectors returned days later, they said they were assured significant progress had been made.
Patient groups and politicians branded the original findings “alarming” and a further indication that staff were overstretched. But they warned it was vital that hospital chiefs got to grips with the situation – or risk more cases of hospital acquired infections.
Dr Jean Turner, executive director of Scotland Patient Association, said: “Either they don’t have enough staff to cope when they are full tilt or they are not doing their job properly. Given that staff are well trained, I would imagine it is down to staffing issues.
“Whatever the reason, it is one of the things that needs to be kept up with so infections aren’t passed on to other people.”
The unannounced visit took place over two days in August, with the team returning days later “to ensure that identified cleanliness issues had been dealt with”.
The report outlined four requirements and three recommendations that NHS Lothian is “fully expected to address”, many within the next month.
These included making sure that processes were in place and implemented so cleaning standards are met in the emergency department.
Sarah Boyack, Lothian Labour MSP, said the message of the report seemed to be “must do better”. She said: “It is deeply concerning that fundamental equipment like trollies and mattresses are consistently falling below standard. The fact that these issues are particularly concentrated in A&E is another sign of the pressure being felt in emergency care.”
Scottish Conservative health spokesman Jackson Carlaw said: “It’s imperative St John’s is well enough resourced to ensure all of these problems – many of them disgusting – are addressed.”
HEI chief inspector Susan Brimelow praised the hospital and its staff for complying with the majority of infection prevention and control standards, but warned there were areas of concern.
She said: “The hospital environment was clean, and we observed good staff compliance with sharps management and hand hygiene practices. However, we did identify areas where improvements are needed.”
Sarah Ballard-Smith, deputy executive nurse director for NHS Lothian, welcomed the report and the areas singled out for praise – such as overall cleanliness, good sharps management and hand hygiene practices.
“We recognise there are things that can be improved and they were addressed as a matter of urgency,” she said. “One area was rectified immediately and this was proven by the subsequent unannounced visit by inspectors.”