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Superbug fear continues to stalk East End hospital wards

PUBLISHED: 17:04 15 October 2008 | UPDATED: 13:41 05 October 2010

PATIENTS in the East End are still at risk from lethal superbugs with dusty wards and dirty curtains at the Royal London Hospital, according to a survey by the healthcare watchdog. A report published by the Healthcare Commission has revealed that the Whi

PATIENTS in the East End are still at risk from lethal superbugs with dusty wards and dirty curtains at the Royal London Hospital, according to a survey by the healthcare watchdog.

A report published by the Healthcare Commission has revealed that the Whitechapel hospital and the London Chest Hospital in Bethnal Green are failing to meet all of their hygiene duties.

Inspectors found that wards have a "high level" of dust, curtains which would be hung by patients' beds are stored in "unhygienic conditions", in areas "not fit for purpose" and equipment used by patients, including chamber pots, are not decontaminated properly.

The survey also exposed that not all staff in the hospitals, run by the Barts and the London Trust, have been trained in infection control and cleaning rotas for the wards are not on display.

The healthcare watchdog is inspecting every hospital trust in the country this year to check that health bosses are adhering to the Hygiene Code and protecting patients from potentially fatal infections including MRSA and C. Difficile.

Inspectors visited the two East End hospitals and St Bartholomew's in July and discovered the trust is breaching three out of four of its hygiene duties by not providing a clean enough environment, not having appropriate management systems in place and not taking enough action to reduce the risks of infection.

The Royal London was named and shamed earlier this year by the Office of National Inspection with as many as 18 patients a year who died there having caught MRSA or C. diff.

The inspectors noted in this week's report that the Barts trust had a high number of MRSA cases towards the end of 2007, with 18 cases between October and December, compared with trusts of a similar size.

And the rates of the superbug were above the expected level from January to March this year.

But the inspectors insisted that the number of cases of MRSA and C. diff were on their way down with the trust providing hand-washing facilities and antibacterial hand rubs for patients and staff and its doctors and nurses looking clean and professional.

The Royal London was singled out for not having a big enough isolation area for infected patients but bosses plan to extend this.

A Barts spokesman insists the trust is battling against the spread of infection and has already implemented a programme to help meet the watchdog's standards, including an awareness campaign focusing on hand hygiene and antibiotic prescribing.

He said: "We have strengthened our root-cause investigations, particularly in relation to C.diff and MRSA.

"And we have implemented a tightened inspection regime at a senior level and have put in place a mandatory infection control training plan for all our 7,800 staff plus our contracted facilities staff as well.

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