Watchdog censures Highlands hospital over dirty linen

HEI issued four requirements and four recommendations to NHS Highland. Picture: Tony Marsh
HEI issued four requirements and four recommendations to NHS Highland. Picture: Tony Marsh
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Inspectors found contaminated linen on “ready-to-use” 
patient beds during a hospital visit.

They also saw body-fluid stains on a patient locker and dirty or contaminated patient equipment at Mid Argyll Community Hospital and Integrated Care Centre in Lochgilphead.

The Healthcare Environment Inspectorate (HEI) issued four requirements and four recommendations to NHS Highland in the wake of the inspection.

They include improving the management of linen and ensuring patient beds were ­properly cleaned between each use to minimise the risk of cross ­infection.

The inspectors found that, overall, NHS Highland was complying with most national standards to protect patients, staff and visitors from the risk of acquired infection.

They found the hospital environment was clean in most areas, and that staff were complying with most standard infection control precautions (SICPs).

However, they found the standard of patient-equipment cleaning varied across the wards and departments visited, with some patient equipment dirty or contaminated.

In one ward, most linen on ready-to-use patient beds was dirty or contaminated.

Susan Brimelow, HEI chief inspector, said: “Overall, we found evidence the hospital environment was clean in most areas.

“However, we did find that further improvement is required, in particular improving the management of patient linen and improving the standard of cleaning patient ­equipment.

“NHS Highland must address the requirements as a matter of priority.”

The health watchdog also ordered the health board to implement a system to deal with failed audits covering standard infection control precautions and said the Craignish community midwifery ward should be included in the SICPs audit process.

Pat Tyrrell, lead nurse for Argyll and Bute Community Health Partnership, said: “We are very pleased HEI has carried out this inspection of Mid Argyll Community Hospital. We are delighted they have recognised the hospital is clean in most areas and that the infection rates within this hospital are very low.

“However, we also accept the areas that have been highlighted for improvement and have ­already taken action to address these.”

Kate MacAulay, clinical services manager for Mid Argyll, said: “Our patients will always come first and we will continue to work hard to make sure we provide the best possible environment in our hospital.”

The inspection visit took place on 29 and 30 July.