Superbug fears after hospital shamed in inspection

The Victoria Infirmary must make urgent improvements. Picture: PA
The Victoria Infirmary must make urgent improvements. Picture: PA
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VULNERABLE patients are being put at risk of contracting deadly superbugs at a Scottish hospital because of dirty beds, hoists and intravenous drip stands, a damning inspection has found.

Health chiefs at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde have been given a month to carry out urgent improvements at Glasgow’s Victoria Infirmary after the Healthcare Environment Inspectorate (HEI) found six hygiene failures requiring “high priority” action in its wards. This included those used for the elderly and for intensive care patients.

HEI inspectors, who reported after visiting the hospital unannounced in July, warned failures to meet national standards on cleaning patient equipment had been raised in two previous inspections at the hospital.

Other key failings included nurses not flushing taps regularly in intensive care units to reduce the risk of infections found in stagnant water, and hospital staff not disposing of needles and other waste in a safe and appropriate way. The health board described the latest report as “extremely disappointing”, but stressed it had already taken action to address the concerns highlighted by the watchdog. However, patient groups branded the failings unacceptable and called for the health chiefs responsible to lose their jobs.

Announcing the findings yesterday, HEI chief inspector Susan Brimelow said: “We have identified six high priority requirements that we expect NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde to address within the month.

“These include a requirement that staff follow the correct procedure for cleaning patient equipment, which we also identified as a requirement in our two previous inspections of the hospital. We will return to ensure action has been taken.”

Margaret Watt, chairwoman of the Scotland Patients Association, said: “Will they [health chiefs] ever learn? They should ensure that hygiene is at the pinnacle, which it is clearly not – and if they still cannot do that, they are in the wrong job and they should go. People’s lives are at stake here.”

But the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Scotland warned against apportioning blame, saying a number of factors could have led to the findings. Norman Provan, RCN Scotland associate director, said: “It is a complicated picture and the many factors behind the problems highlighted in the report need to be examined by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, in conjunction with staff, to ensure they are rectified as soon as possible.”

He also warned the Scottish Government against appearing to “take its foot off the pedal” by planning to cut funding for infection control by £10 million next year.