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Children's hospital ordered to improve cleanliness

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Improvements at a children’s hospital in Scotland have been demanded after inspectors found evidence of stained mattresses and staff not washing their hands properly.

The Healthcare Environment Inspectorate (HEI) also noted signs of wear and tear to chair beds and soft play cushions at the Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital.

The inspectors’ report highlighted 11 areas for improvement at the hospital and listed a further nine recommendations.

However, the report found that the hospital was generally clean and in a good state of repair.

It also concluded that the health board was “working hard” to comply with standards to protect patients, staff and visitors from infections.

Grampian said it was acting on the demands “as a matter of priority” and an action plan was being put in place.

The hospital provides acute care for children up to the age of 14. The current building was opened in 2004.

The HEI carried out a pre-planned inspection at the hospital on 22 and 23 September.

Overall, they found the hospital was clean and praised the management of patients with known or suspected infections.

Inspectors also pointed to a “clear understanding of antimicrobial prescribing” for young patients.

But the report also pinpointed several areas for improvement, including checks on the cleanliness of mattresses.

The report said: “During an inspection of the medical ward, three mattresses were checked. Two were found to be stained.”

It went on: “The inspection team also found two punctured pram mattresses on the same ward. Both pram mattresses had indicator tape implying that they were considered clean and fit for use.”

The inspectors found there was “no system or clear responsibility” at ward level for recording that mattresses are clean and undamaged.

They recommended that Grampian implement a reliable system for checking mattresses to ensure that they are “clean and fit for purpose at all times”.

The HEI team also noted “issues” surrounding staff hand-washing techniques.

In particular, they noted that a consultant was spotted failing to wash his hands after leaving a patient’s room.

Medical staff on the surgical ward were also observed not consistently employing the correct hand-washing technique, the report said.

The HEI called on the health board to work to ensure compliance with standard infection control precautions.

Grampian said reducing the risk of the spread of infection was a priority.

A spokeswoman said: “Grampian is pleased the inspectors found the hospital clean and that isolation practices were good.

“We also welcome acknowledgement that the hospital’s management of patients with known or suspected infection is clear, and that staff have a clear understanding of what should be in place for antimicrobial prescribing for paediatric patients.

“There is also recognition that Grampian is working hard to comply with the national standards which protect patients, staff and visitors from infection.

“The report does, however, contain a number of requirements and recommendations which we are acting on as a matter of priority. An action plan has been submitted to the inspectorate and can be found on their website.

“The public can be reassured that the infection control record of the hospital remains high.

“The rate of transmission of infection in children is very low. We have never had an outbreak of bacterial infections such as MRSA or C difficile in RACH.”

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Readers' comments (2)

  • I have never seen a doctor wash their hands after visiting a patient unless they had to touch the patient and even then they wore gloves but didn't wash their hands afterwards usually.

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  • how can qualified nurses work on dirty wards. i would have thought hygiene was an integral part of their training. I nursed in Switzerland where nurses always keep their working environment clean and tidy with everything in its place and a joy to work in. you never came on duty to a scruffy untidy ward. we always cleared up behind us before handing over even thought we had been on our own and hectically busy. it would be an utmost insult to our colleagues, patients and all visiting the wards apart from increased risks of infection.
    the corridors were cleaned and polished in the early hours of the morning and then the ward maid, a respected member of our ward team, cleaned all the floors and other surfaces thoroughly in the mornings on the ward and the nursing assistants went around again late morning and late afternoon after visiting damp dusting all the floors and surfaces. beds after discharge were wiped down by nurses and bedside lockers and then we took the empty beds to the disinfection unit and collected a fresh one covered with plastic for the next admission. all mattresses and pillows had plastic covers which could be wiped down with disinfectant and we never, ever had any stained matresses. this is inadmissible. any spills during the day on the floors or otherwise were the responsibility of nurses and assitstants alike to clean up.

    I just can't believe how scruffy and cluttered wards in UK hospitals are, not to mention hygiene and infection control. I hope I am never a patient in one, I would feel very uneasy.

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