Hygiene check reveals top Edinburgh hospital infested by mice

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HEALTH officials have blasted shocking food hygiene standards at the Capital’s largest psychiatric hospital after a damning recent inspection found kitchens infested with cockroaches and mice.

Environmental health officers discovered food preparation areas at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital (REH) in “a state of disrepair” during a visit last month.

The Royal Edinburgh Hospital. Picture: Greg Macvean

The Royal Edinburgh Hospital. Picture: Greg Macvean

Inspectors reported a total of 21 contraventions of hygiene guidelines, including evidence of poor pest control procedure leading to mice being found in the staff kitchen.

Vermin were also discovered in service corridors, while pest control experts also expressed concern over the alarming presence of cockroaches in the building. The hospital, which has around 340 beds, cares for some of the most vulnerable mentally ill patients from across the Lothians.

A spokeswoman for the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland said food hygiene issues were not raised on their previous visit to the hospital in April.

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The official report details a catalogue of food and general hygiene contraventions, including walls with flaking paint and filthy drainage and ventilation systems.

Bosses at the hospital have been told to fix missing and broken tiles in the main kitchen area, while a “build-up of dirt and debris” was highlighted in the dry good store. In another preparation area, skirting under a bench was reportedly in such a poor state it could not be properly cleaned, while floor drains were said to be in dire need of repair.

Inspectors were unimpressed with an “accumulation of waste material and obsolete equipment” dumped in an equipment store corridor.

Food storage was also reported to be an issue, with salads and sandwiches inappropriately stored in chill units overnight in the dining area.

While the inspection report is not a statutory notice, meaning it cannot be legally enforced, recommendations are made to NHS Lothian for improvements.

However, political figures branded the findings “hazardous and irresponsible”.

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Tory health spokesman Miles Briggs said: “This inspection report shows that kitchens at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital are filthy and not fit for purpose. It is clear that an immediate deep clean of the kitchens is required and I have written to NHS Lothian to seek reassurance that another inspection will be carried out on the kitchens at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital as soon as possible.”

George Curley, director of facilities at NHS Lothian, said: “We strive to maintain our buildings and services to the highest standards possible and have robust control measures in place for this. We also work with an accredited pest control company to minimise the risk of pest infestation and this includes a comprehensive programme of regular inspection and treatment.

“Catering facilities at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital are in one of the older buildings on the site, which makes it a more challenging environment to maintain.”

He added: “For this reason, new catering facilities are an important part of the redevelopment of the REH site.”