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Hospital criticised over maternity unit standards


HEI inspectors uncovered a number of problems, including finding out-of-date medical supplies dating back to 2002, when they visited a hospital maternity unit, it has been revealed.

Members of the Healthcare Environment Inspectorate (HEI) visited Caithness General Hospital in July this year.

When they examined the maternity unit, they found out-of-date sterile medical supplies, with some of these items having expired as far back as 2002.

The HEI - which was set up last year in a bid to reduce the risk to patients from hospital acquired infections - has now recommended that NHS Highland implement an effective stock rotation policy in the hospital’s maternity unit.

Inspectors also found torn bed linen in the maternity unit and said cleaning in that part of the hospital “needs to be improved”.

There was evidence of mould in the shower facilities, while bins for domestic and clinical waste were “dirty and rusty”.

Inspectors also found baby changing mats were stained underneath, with these later removed by staff.

However the HEI found the overall standard of cleanliness in the hospital was good, stating: “The majority of wards inspected were visibly clean.”

Its report also praised the infection control nurse at the hospital for being “very visible on the wards”.

Susan Brimelow, HEI chief inspector, said NHS Highland was complying with the majority of standards to “protect patients, staff and visitors from the risk of acquiring an infection within Caithness General Hospital”.

She added: “The overall standard of cleanliness within the hospital is good and the majority of the wards inspected were visibly clean. Environmental audits are being carried out, action plans produced and senior charge nurses have a good awareness of the audit results for their ward area.

“However, we did find that further improvement is required in some areas including the standard of cleanliness within the maternity ward and the sharing of feedback from public representatives involved across NHS Highland’s public involvement programme.”


Readers' comments (6)

  • Sadly, Caithness General Hospital are not alone - this year we've found out-of-date medical supplies on the shelves at five different UK hospitals so far. The problem is exacerbating as hospitals struggle with lack of funding and resource in an effort to meet new government cost savings targets.

    As part of the process to help hospitals better manage their inventory, we review their current stock held and more often than not, find that at least 20% of medical supplies are obsolete or overstocked.

    However there is light at the end of the tunnel. Implementing an effective stock management system, will not only ensure optimum stock levels are maintained, reduce waste and storage, but can also realise huge cost savings.

    At Cardiff and Vale University Local Health Board for example, our stock management system identified that up to 50% of stock in some areas was excessive or unnecessary. This intelligence helped the trust free up valuable staff time, reduce inefficiencies in the system and save a considerable amount of wasted funds.

    J Haspel, CEO, Sentient Health

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  • When I was a student nurse 30 years ago we would spend 'visiting time' at the weekends stock checking and linen cupboard checking.

    We would empty each section of its contents, 'damp dust' and replace all items still in date with the earliest date on top.

    Good lesson for us and also familiarised us with all the items in the clinical room.

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  • No excuse for stained changing mats - what have they got them for anyway? Communal equipment such as this in a neonatal/maternity environment means infection risk & is not cost effective. Am surprised that the stock levels have not been put forward as a CIP action like the rest of us have had to do.
    Disappointing result for NHS Scotland of whom many of us, south of the border, hold in high esteem & look towards excellence & innovation - this is basic stuff which sadly the NHS north & staff constantly seems to not be able to be consistant with.
    30 yrs ago we had excellence at the basics & common sense & set visiting times - now it is sadly very different.

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  • I agree 30 years ago things were very different and I believe better, visiting time was spent doing these important tasks, it also gave nurses time to talk to the patients without visitors, catch up on some studying etc, nowadays we are lucky to grab a 15 minute lunch and a comfort break during our shift!
    Is this really progress I ask?

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  • No it's not progress. Much of what is wrong in the NHS is driven by people who have got their name in print, their theory embedded in nursing care, and created a degree led profession [cutting out all those compassionate people who cannot afford to take 3 years out] and have left us in this mess. Student nurses would not welcome being asked to clean out cupboards and check expiry dates - at least thats impression I get. PLEASE correct me if i'm wrong. When we did jobs like this at weekends - yes it was a pain but you knew those cupboards backwards and were terrified in case you missed an expired medicine or lotion and were found guilty of putting a patient at risk by delaying their treatment because fresh stock had to be found. Everything we did had implications for the patient and therefore was of worth however tedious the task. I think nursing is missing something...if only someone could put their finger on it.....

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  • What this article does not show is that the stock out of date from '02' was seperated and was to be sent for use in third world area,s. One item only was found to be out of date in the usable stock and by only days, this is sill un acceptable i know. However at no time was a patient at risk of the out of date equipment being used. As reported locally

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