The Comet checks up on hospital hygiene

PUBLISHED: 12:54 26 October 2006 | UPDATED: 11:06 06 May 2010

Comet reporter Louise McEvoy gets into the handwashing routine under the watchful eye of senior matron Mary George

Comet reporter Louise McEvoy gets into the handwashing routine under the watchful eye of senior matron Mary George

FOLLOWING The Comet s recent reports about the poor standard of hygiene and significant cases of MRSA and healthcare acquired infections at Lister Hospital, Comet reporter LOUISE McEVOY was invited on a guided tour of the wards. Accompanied by public rela

FOLLOWING The Comet's recent reports about the poor standard of hygiene and significant cases of MRSA and healthcare acquired infections at Lister Hospital, Comet reporter LOUISE McEVOY was invited on a guided tour of the wards.

Accompanied by public relations officer Jo Arthur and senior matron Mary George, I visited two wards where evidence of constant hand-washing by staff members was visibly apparent.

And I must have washed my hands a dozen times during my three-hour visit.

Mrs George said: "Hand washing is key to us reducing MRSA."

However, a recent report issued by the East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust revealed only 13 per cent of people complied with hand hygiene regulations during a spot check on ward 5A and only 21 per cent observed them in the hospital's coronary care unit.

Mrs George said: "We have got to do some work with the medical staff.

"The doctors are a challenge for us. We want to make sure doctors are aware of accepted guidelines and make sure they stick to them.

"We need to encourage them to think but it has to come from their seniors too. It's about setting an example"

When asked about hospital staff wearing their uniforms outside work, consultant microbiologist Dr Lorane Fitch said: "It's not what we call 'best practice' but I don't think it poses any risk at all.".

Mrs George said: "Staff should go straight home and change. There's no excuse for anyone in an identifiable uniform to go shopping. It's not acceptable."

The general feeling from hospital staff I spoke to is that they battle with public perception. Mrs George said: "People's perception of clean is brand spanking new but it's an old building. The environment is letting us down instead of cleanliness."

Dr Fitch was keen to dispel some of the myths surrounding MRSA: "It is an issue in hospitals but we have many ways of treating it.

"I think the public need to be aware that it's not something that's going to kill them necessarily, and they are not going to pick it up by walking through the door of a hospital. It just doesn't work like that. The risk is remarkably low.


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