Health chiefs have been ordered to take action after a hospital cleanliness probe found patients’ personal hygiene products contaminated with faeces and workers who did not know how to clean up blood spillages properly.
While the Healthcare Improvement Scotland team inspecting Liberton Hospital said it was largely satisfied with hygiene standards, the watchdog highlighted other areas of concern including finding heavily-stained chairs that could have spread infection and contaminated toilet seats and commodes.
The 170-bed facility, which closed to visitors and new patients for several weeks earlier this year due to a norovirus outbreak, was also criticised over an inadequate number of sinks and because sharps boxes had not been assembled properly, potentially exposing staff and patients to injury and infection.
However, the probe also found that staff complied with standard infection control precautions such as handwashing, that wards were well maintained and that a majority of patients were satisfied that the hospital was clean.
Chief inspector Susan Brimelow described the results of the investigation, which took place in October, as “positive overall”.
She added: “The hospital environment was clean, and staff members were aware of their individual responsibilities for the prevention and control of infection. However, we also identified areas for improvement including that staff involved in the cleaning of blood spillages follow guidelines to ensure that the correct solution of chlorine is used. We expect NHS Lothian to address these areas as a matter of priority.”
Overall, five requirements and three recommendations were imposed. While the majority of equipment inspected was “clean and ready to use”, personal hygiene products meant for individual patients was twice found to be unlabelled. Skin cleansing foam and a container of handwash soap was contaminated with faeces on ward four of the hospital.
It was found that not all staff were aware how to use a chlorine-based solution to clean blood spillages correctly, and on one ward, workers were seen using an unsuitable product to clean blood.
Following the severe norovirus outbreak last winter, NHS Lothian has moved to reduce the number of beds at Liberton Hospital, which is estimated to need almost £10 million of maintenance work.
Sarah Ballard-Smith, NHS Lothian’s nurse director, said that the health board had already moved to address the concerns raised.
She added: “Our staff work hard to ensure infection prevention and control measures are maintained at all our sites. and it is important that we take the positives from this report.
“We have noted the five areas highlighted which require improvement and have already taken action on these.”