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Bromley Hospitals NHS Trust warned over cleanliness

4 February, 2008  

UK healthcare watchdog, the Healthcare Commission, today announced that it has issued Bromley Hospitals NHS Trust with an improvement notice, following unannounced visits to Princess Royal University Hospital last month.

The regulator found breaches of duty four of the hygiene code, covering arrangements for clean and appropriate premises and decontamination of equipment, and ordered immediate changes to the trust’s infection control practices.

Breaches of the code included the following:

  • In three wards, thick layers of dust were observed on the curtain rails around patients’ beds and on ventilation plates, demonstrating a lack of a thorough cleaning routine.
  • A supporting column outside two side rooms of an isolation ward was not maintained, with exposed metal protruding through the plaster; similar problems were noted in other areas of the same ward.
  • Bench-top sterilisers were observed to be in use in theatres and the day surgery unit with insufficient evidence of a process to trace the origin, history and use of instruments decontaminated in the machines.
  • Evidence of poor decontamination procedures of patient equipment was found. Soiled commodes, marked clean and ready for use, were found on one ward.
  • Several bed frames and wall mounted suction bottles were very dusty in three wards. A thick layer of dust was observed on the blood culture bottle trolley outside an isolation ward.
  • Patients on two wards expressed concerns to Healthcare Commission staff about the hospital’s cleanliness, directing them to examples of unclean areas and equipment such as bloodstains on a bed rail and blood splashes on a wall behind another bed.

Anna Walker, the Commission’s Chief Executive, said: “There is serious public concern at the moment about infections in hospitals. Trusts and patients should be clear that we remain vigilant and will not hesitate to use our powers when it comes to enforcing the hygiene code.

“We undertook unannounced visits to this trust. We found that cleanliness was not good enough and equipment decontamination processes needed improving. This is not acceptable to patients, who want to know that everything possible is being done to protect their safety and ensure a good standard of care.”

The trust was told to implement a tracing system for instruments decontaminated using bench-top sterilisers, and to develop a “robust” action plan to ensure the cleanliness of all patient areas in line with NHS national minimal standards.

The Commission returned to the trust on Thursday 31 January 2008 and was satisfied that the trust is now compliant with the tracing system notice.

A further visit will take place in early March to check on the cleanliness of patient areas and other decontamination issues.

Bromley Hospitals NHS Trust