Hospital hygiene breach exposed

IPSWICH Hospital has been named as one of only three health trusts which breached safety standards deemed serious enough to represent an “immediate risk to patients”.

IPSWICH Hospital has been named as one of only three health trusts which breached safety standards deemed serious enough to represent an “immediate risk to patients”.

Earlier this year a spot check by the Healthcare Commission found flaws in the cleaning procedures around the use of four bench-top sterilisers at the hospital.

They were based in the ear, nose and throat department, oral surgery, critical care unit and south theatres.

A report published today by the Healthcare Commission has revealed that the hospital was one of only three trusts out of the 51 inspected which were identified to have committed a material breach of hygiene standards. This is considered serious enough to represent an immediate risk to patients.


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As a result of the inspection the hospital was issued with an improvement notice. It was later re-inspected and found to have complied with the terms of the notice.

Jan Rowsell, Ipswich Hospital spokesperson, said: “We took immediate action once the Healthcare Commission highlighted to us that it did not wish us to use these four small desktop sterilisation systems.

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“We took two out of service immediately and then because we would have had to cancel patients at very short notice it took us a matter of days to remove the other two. Our improvement notice relating to these issues was served and then very shortly afterwards was removed.”

Health Minister Ann Keen said: “Any breach of the hygiene code is unacceptable and we expect trusts to take swift action to rectify areas of concern. The Healthcare Commission is very clear that the vast majority of breaches were minor and did not pose a threat to the safety of patients.

“It is encouraging to see that most lapses in cleanliness were isolated incidents. Several of these were minor issues, such as cluttered rooms.

“Nonetheless, the NHS should take any breach - no matter how minor - extremely seriously.”

Anna Walker, chief executive of the Healthcare Commission, said she had been encouraged by the response from health trusts but said improvements were needed.

“At nearly all trusts we have found gaps that need closing,” she said. “It is important to be clear that at these trusts we are not talking about the most serious kind of breaches. But these are important warning signs to trust boards that there may be a weakness in their systems.

"In particular, trusts need to ensure that their wards are consistently clean and well maintained, and that they have good decontamination and isolation arrangements.

“It is the consistent application of these systems that will ensure infection rates continue to drop.

"These issues are a top priority for the public. We make no apologies for demanding high standards.”

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