Western General ‘must do better’ on ward cleaning

Sarah Boyack.
Sarah Boyack.
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DIRTY mattresses have been found at the Western General Hospital despite an inspection warning the health facility had “appalling” hygiene six months earlier.

A report in January rated cleanliness levels as “poor” and made a series of recommendations after finding dirty equipment, overcrowded wards and hand gels wrongly removed.

It is deeply concerning there are still problems with basic hygiene and cleanliness

Sarah Boyack

The report also said bed handrails, mattresses, armchairs and toilet-roll dispensers were contaminated and there were concerns raised about the risk of cross-infection to patients, staff and visitors.

Now a follow-up inspection has found most of the recommendations have been met, but the actions on cleaning standards and mattress checks were only “partially met”.

The latest report by the Healthcare Environment Inspectorate said the unannounced inspection team ­discovered five contaminated mattresses in the Acute Receiving Admissions Unit (ARAU), one in Ward 15 and one in Ward 22, as well as five damaged mattresses in the ARAU and Ward 15.

The report said: “Senior managers told us that the new system of mattress checking had given more objectivity and allowed sharing of good practice. While we acknowledge that each ward has a system in place for checking mattresses, we are not assured that this is effectively reducing the risk of cross-infection to patients.”

The report said cleanliness in most of the wards inspected was good.

But it said: “The exception to this was the ARAU (base one) where we found that the standard of environmental cleanliness was poor in terms of high level dust.

“Further action is needed to sustain a clean environment in this unit.”

Dr Jean Turner of the Scotland Patients Association – who described the previous findings of the inspectors as appalling – said it was disappointing there were still 
contaminated mattresses at the hospital.

She said: “In order to minimise cross-infection you really would expect a hospital to be doing the basics when it comes to cleanliness. You do not put people into beds that have not been thoroughly cleaned.

“With the greater turnover of patients, it’s more important than ever to make sure everything is cleaned properly because you have more people coming in and out.

“It could be down to too few staff or maybe there is a need for more training to emphasise what they need to do.”

Lothian Labour MSP Sarah Boyack said it was good there had been some progress since the last report.

But she added: “It is deeply concerning there are still problems with basic hygiene and cleanliness and worrying they still have contaminated mattresses in the hospital. They need to sort this out as a matter of priority.”

Melanie Johnson, nurse director at NHS Lothian, said: “We are glad that the inspectors saw improvements during this follow-up inspection and acknowledge the recommendations made.

“Improvement work is ongoing and will continue to be ­carried out as a priority.”