Readers’ fears over lack of hygiene

PUBLISHED: 12:10 12 October 2006 | UPDATED: 11:00 06 May 2010

The Lister

The Lister

AN AVALANCHE of letters from concerned readers about the lack of hygiene at Lister has prompted The Comet to investigate the East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust s hygiene policy. One worried reader said: I pass the bus station on my way to work and ma

AN AVALANCHE of letters from concerned readers about the lack of hygiene at Lister has prompted The Comet to investigate the East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust's hygiene policy.

One worried reader said: "I pass the bus station on my way to work and many people are wearing the same uniforms they wear when working at the hospital.

"Surely germs are introduced into the hospital when this sort of practice is allowed?"

Another reader said: "I am not happy with the hygiene at Lister when there are many staff in their uniforms sitting on the floor having their tea and cigarettes."

The Trust's dress code and personal presentation policy states: "Wherever possible uniforms should not be worn outside the hospital, except for official duties or patient care, or where a coat covers them."

A spokesman for the Trust said: "What the policy advises is that the Trust recommends that staff do change first before going home.

"However, it is recognised that insufficient facilities exist (changing rooms, shower facilities, lockers, etc) and there is no budget or space available to implement such facilities.

"The Trust recognises that, for the public, seeing patients going home in their uniform provides the wrong image and reinforces prejudice that this is an infection risk.

He added: "As long as their uniform is kept clean there isn't a health risk.

"It's a problem in people's minds.

"Saying you can get MRSA from wearing a uniform outside is like saying you can catch Aids from a toilet seat. It's a common perception but it doesn't make sense."

Our readers also expressed concern at visitors being allowed to sit on beds.

One angry reader said: "All the hand washing alone cannot help when visitors are allowed to sit and lie on patient's beds and contamination is spread."

Another reader said: "Lister should cut down visiting times and also the number of visitors round a bed."

A spokesman for the Trust said: "These aren't prisons so we can't stop people visiting.

"It's a balancing act. We need to manage infection control while still allowing access to patients.

"What we don't want to do is go back to the days where it's absolutely restricted.

"There will be people out there saying we should not allow certain things but they are not sitting in the hospital beds."

According to the Trust, extensive work is being undertaken to ensure the incidents of healthcare-acquired infections, including MRSA, are reduced, including:

* Monthly hand hygiene audits and feedback for all clinical areas

* Action to increase awareness of the Trust's new antibiotic policy

* All the Trust's infection control policies have now been placed on the hospital's Intranet

* The infection control link nurse system will be refreshed and refocused

* An infection control summit for the Trust has been planned for October 19 which will involve all clinical directors and their deputies, consultant microbiologists, clinical governance leads and the infection control team.

* The agenda will focus on a range of areas, including:

* Improving hand hygiene compliance

* Pursuing a uniform code, including the wearing of theatre dress

* Antibiotic policy compliance

* Junior doctor and consultant training on infection control


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