New battle against superbugs

GOING to hospital can be a frightening experience at the best of times but when patients become scared they are going to pick up more germs than they come in with because of the dirt, something has to change.

GOING to hospital can be a frightening experience at the best of times but when patients become scared they are going to pick up more germs than they come in with because of the dirt, something has to change.

And change according to chief exec (acting) Chris Dooley is exactly what is happening all the time.

Mr Dooley said that more than £500,000 has been pumped into improving cleaning at Ipswich Hospital in the last two years and there is more to come.

He said: "Patients should not be scared of coming to the hospital.

"We have got good infection control procedures in place. At times there may be issues about an area not having being sufficiently cleaned."

He added that cleanliness and infection control was high on the list of priorities at the hospital and that changes have and are being made.

Most Read

But he said that it was not just an issue of putting in more resources and that patients, staff and visitors had to work in partnership to tackle the problem.

Mr Dooley said that visitors must tell staff if they see something that needs cleaning up.

Recent stories in the Evening Star however have shown that when visitors do tell staff that floors and toilets were dirty they were informed that there are no cleaners at weekends.

However Mr Dooley said that this was being addressed. There are cleaners available all day every day and all staff should be aware of that.

He said: "The staff do know about it. It could be an issue of communication between our own staff and the message not getting through to the right person.

"Every single week I visit probably two wards to look at not just cleaning standards but the whole issue of the ward environment like furnishings and decoration.

"By doing this we have identified several areas that need to be improved and we have followed those up and made changes."

Mr Dooley said that the visits he makes to the ward are unannounced so no one knows where he is planning to go.

He said that one of the areas of improvement that have been picked up on is storage of medical equipment. Because of a lack of storage space some equipment has to be stored in ward corridors making it more difficult for cleaning staff to do a thorough job.

He said: "The problem we have got with the design of the main wards was that the right amount of storage space was not included. It was a national design.

"We are addressing that with the new Garrett Anderson Centre being built."

Mr Dooley said that another problem for the hospital is that most days nearly every bed is taken. The recommended bed occupancy level is to run at around 94 per cent of beds being used. This also makes it more difficult to do a deep clean as once the bed is stripped and remade there is usually another patient waiting for it.

It is hoped that the building of the new centre by 2007 will bring bed occupancy rates down making it easier to keep the place clean.

The hospital is cleaned by contract cleaners from OCS who clean to a specified contract. Mr Dooley said when OCS took over the contract 18 months ago that was an improved version of the former one.

However he said the contract specifications are unlikely to have changed in the last two years despite more people being treated at the hospital.

Mr Dooley said: "If we identify that there has been an issue that means we have to extend cleaning hours as a board we have to consider the funding of that.

"However when we put out to tender we specified a much higher level of cleaning than before."

Several moves have been made to try and eradicate dirt and infection on the wards. Six housekeepers are to be employed across different areas of the hospital whose duties include special emphasis on cleaning. Modern Matrons have also been employed who will also keep a special eye on cleaning. There are also bug stop stations in every ward where staff and visitors should use a gel disinfectant on their way in and out of the ward.

There is also an infection control nurse on every ward.

Staff are also encouraging patients to bring in less stuff with them as it is more difficult to clean their bedside tables and lockers with lots of belongings on them. Information booklets on MRSA are also given out to patients and visitors.

Mr Dooley also pointed out that when the independent Patient Environmental Action Team visits the hospital to do spot checks they are always awarded a green light which is the highest possible level of cleanliness.

He said: "We see a lot of patients come through the hospital and sometimes people may see different cleaning problems but that does not mean we have a major cleaning problem."

Jan Rowsell, spokeswoman for the hospital said: "It must be pointed out that everyone who works at the hospital, including staff who work for a partnership organisation work really hard and do a really good job."

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter