BOSSES at the Capital’s flagship hospital have come under fire after they refused to release a report from pest experts into a potential feral pigeon infestation at the facility.
Consort, the company that built and runs the Royal Infirmary under a PFI deal, commissioned contractors to carry out a survey after operating theatres were shut down by flies coming from pigeon carcasses twice last year.
But despite the survey being completed last month, the company, which is paid around £60 million a year in NHS cash, said it would not be releasing the report to the public despite previous indications that it would do so.
Instead, it issued a two-sentence statement confirming expert advice had been sought and that “additional robust actions” had been put in place to “eradicate the problem”.
Tom Waterson, Unison branch chair for Lothian, said he believed the report should be immediately released and that Consort’s position made it appear the company had “something to hide”. He said: “This company is quite happy to take £60m per year in public money but then is refusing to release information to the public.
“The are taking the money but refusing to play the game. Theatres were closed because of pigeons at the Royal Infirmary and it’s in the public interest that it is released. The public should ask why they’re not going to release the report and maybe the Health Minister should ask questions too.”
Contractors were spotted at the hospital in December using cherry pickers to access roofs as they carried out their survey. It followed claims from Mr Waterson that he had seen a report which stated that the Royal Infirmary was home to 100 feral pigeons, which had been accessing internal areas at the hospital such as plant rooms for a number of years through holes in guttering.
Labour Lothians MSP Sarah Boyack also urged Consort to make the report public. She said: “Consort are there to provide facilities management for NHS Lothian and if their investigation has uncovered how the birds got in they have a responsibility to disclose that information.”
Two operating theatres were put out of action for a total of 11 days in June last year after flies were found in operating theatres. It later emerged they had come from a maggot-infested pigeon which had accessed a roof cavity before it died.
Last month, another theatre was put out of action after another fly was found. NHS Lothian said the insect had come from a dead pigeon but denied the bird had accessed internal areas.
A spokesman for Consort said: “We can confirm that NHS Lothian asked for further reassurances and as a result Consort sought independent expert advice on this matter and implemented additional robust actions to eradicate the problem in line with the expert’s guidance. We will continually monitor the situation as part of our normal routine.”
dishing the dirt on consort
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Operating theatres being shut by flies coming from dead pigeons at the Royal Infirmary was only the latest scandal to hit PFI operator Consort.
In March last year, an
operation had to be completed by torchlight after power to a theatre was cut off. Two months earlier, it emerged that Consort had cleared 580 staff to work without carrying out criminal background checks. In December 2011, a baby was born by torchlight as power failed in the birthing unit, just months after Consort was criticised after inspectors found dirty wards and toilets.
In October 2007 some of the hospital’s panic alarms broke, and Consort made a decision not to inform NHS staff. NHS Lothian was reportedly considering quitting its deal with Consort.