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Rats and maggots on our wards

PUBLISHED: 17:41 06 August 2008 | UPDATED: 15:08 25 August 2010

HOSPITAL managers have been forced to call pest control up to twice a week to deal with a rat infestation.

HOSPITAL managers have been forced to call pest control up to twice a week to deal with a rat infestation.

Others have called the experts after discovering maggots in a mortuary and colonies of ants in maternity wards, according to figures released under the Freedom of Information Act this week.

Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) in Woolwich called pest control 156 times in a 16 month period to deal with rodents and insects. The call-outs, equating to an average of twice a week, are more than four times that of Queen Mary's Hospital, Sidcup. It only had to call out pest experts 26 times in the same period.

Despite this, health bosses have opted to axe A&E and maternity services in Sidcup and plan to divert patients to Woolwich from 2011. The Sidcup hospital has been hampered by its own infestations including maggots in the mortuary and ants in the maternity ward. But a spokesperson for the hospital said the incidents in question took place more than two years ago.

He said: "As with all large buildings, there is a risk ofpests and QMS takes hygiene and cleanliness very seriously. We have monthly checks on the whole site and call in pest controllers promptly in between as needed."

Bexley councillor Sharon Massey said: "I am sure the bosses are embarrassed. It turns everybody's stomach. QMS has got an excellent record on cleanliness so I am not surprised they have had the least call outs than the other hospitals."

A 66-year-old former patient from Sidcup, who did not want to be named, said: "If there is muck in the place, there are going to be bugs.

"I am surprised by the fact that nothing seems to be done to do anything about it. When there is an infestation, it is still all finance driven, as they call in the company that gave the cheapest quote and that is the one that does the job in the least efficient way."

A spokesperson for QEH said: "The hospital has regular monitoring visits by pest control specialists as part of our contract with our PFI partners.

"Between Jan 2006 and April this year we had 124 such visits. During the same period we had 32 call outs, 23 for rodents and nine insect related.

"The rodent problem related mainly to a rat colony on Woolwich common which affected the area around the hospital's administration block. Precautions have been put in place and the colony located and exterminated."

University Hospital Lewisham (UHL) had 119 call outs from January 2006 to April 2008, according to the figures obtained by the Conservatives.

Even though the hospital has had problems with rats, mice, cockroaches, ants, biting insects and fleas, its threatened A&E was saved and will remain open for 12 hours a day.

Consultant engineer Tony Barber, of Longland Road, Sidcup, said: "It seems to me they are so focused on money, they forget basic things like keeping the hospital clean.

"They are trying to provide other facilities by sacrificing the basics."

A spokesperson for UHL said: "The number of pest control call outs has been reduced this year. The hospital remains vigilant on all issues of cleanliness and infection control.

"UHL has the second best results on C difficile in the country and has been selected as one of seven Showcase Hospitals in the UK for good practice on reducing healthcare associated infections."

According to the figures, Bromley NHS Trust which is also set to take the overspill of patients from Sidcup after the A&E closes, called out pest control 74 times.

But a spokesman for the Trust branded the figures inaccurate, adding: "The Trust has a contract with a pest control contractor which specifies the number of routine visits required to ensure the Trust is proactive in its pest control activity. The contract specifies that the Trust requires 26 visits to the Princess Royal University Hospital, 26 visits to Orpington Hospital and 12 to Global House (which is an administrative building) as a preventative measure. We consider this action to be good practice.

"The majority of activity over the last year has been external works to the Princess Royal University Hospital to prevent pigeons landing and breeding."

A 66-year-old former patient from Sidcup, who did not want to be named, said: "If there is muck in the place, there are going to be bugs.

"I am surprised by the fact that nothing seems to be done to do anything about it. When there is an infestation, it is still all finance driven, as they call in the company that gave the cheapest quote and that is the one that does the job in the least efficient way."

A spokesperson for QEH said: "The hospital has regular monitoring visits by pest control specialists as part of our contract with our PFI partners.

"Between January 2006 and April this year we had 124 such visits. During the same period we had 32 call outs, 23 for rodents and nine insect related.

"The rodent problem related mainly to a rat colony on Woolwich common which affected the area around the hospital's administration block. Precautions have been put in place and the colony located and exterminated."

University Hospital Lewisham (UHL) had 119 call-outs from January 2006 to April 2008, according to the figures obtained by the Conservatives. Even though the hospital has had problems with rats, mice, cockroaches, ants, biting insects and fleas, its threatened A&E was saved and will remain open for 12 hours a day.

Consultant engineer Tony Barber, of Longland Road, Sidcup, said: "It seems to me they are so focused on money, they forget basic things like keeping the hospital clean.

"They are trying to provide other facilities by sacrificing the basics."

A spokesperson for UHL said: "The number of pest control call-outs has been reduced this year. The hospital remains vigilant on all issues of cleanliness and infection control.

"UHL has the second best results on C difficile in the country and has been selected as one of seven showcase hospitals in the UK for good practice on reducing healthcare associated infections."

According to the figures, Bromley NHS Trust, which is also set to take the overspill of patients from Sidcup after the A&E closes, called out pest control 74 times.

But a spokesman for the Trust branded the figures inaccurate, adding: "The Trust has a contract with a pest control contractor which specifies the number of routine visits required to ensure the Trust is proactive in its pest control activity. The contract specifies that the Trust requires 26 visits to the Princess Royal University Hospital, 26 visits to Orpington Hospital and 12 to Global House (an administrative building) as a preventative measure. We consider this action to be good practice.

"The majority of activity over the last year has been external works to the Princess Royal University Hospital to prevent pigeons landing and breeding."

marina.soteriou@archant.co.uk

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