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Hospitals have vermin problems

6th August 2008

A report has claimed that the cleanliness of NHS hospitals in England is threatened by frequent invasions of vermin.

Corridor

Rats, fleas, bedbugs and cockroaches are among some of the infestations dealt with pest controllers on wards, clinics and operating theatres at major hospitals.

Research for the Conservative party - obtained under Freedom of Information legislation - showed that 70% of NHS Trusts brought in pest controllers at least 50 times between January 2006 and March 2008.

Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust had the most incidents with more than 1,000 while five other trusts had more than 800.

Examples found by the Conservatives included maggots in a patient's slippers, fleas in a neo-natal unit, stores infested with mice, flying ants on a ward, rats in a maternity unit and a wasps' nest in an A&E department.

Shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley said: "Labour have said over and over that they will improve cleanliness in our hospitals, but these figures clearly show that they are failing."

However, health minister Ivan Lewis said the Conservatives had exaggerated the problem, and "talked down" the NHS in order to score a political point. He said use of pest control was a sign of good proactive management.

A spokesman for the HPA said: "In countries with good standards of healthcare, the possibility for insects or pests to transmit infections in hospitals would be very remote."

But the Patients Association said the findings were "truly revolting."

"If these hospitals were restaurants they would be closed down and out of business," said a spokesperson.

 

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