I'm a hospital visitor this week. Not one of my favourite occupations these days I assure you and that's mainly because the hospital I'm visiting still looks dirty. Mind you, Leg Iron will possibly tell you looking dirty and being dirty aren't necessarily one and the same, but my brain interprets the image in that way.
At Dundee's Ninewells hospital entrance a voice which appears to come from the wilderness tells you to 'put our your cigarette as this is a no smoking area' and then 'wash your hands when entering and leaving the ward'.
Once I reached the ward I required I couldn't see any wash basins, none before then either, so asked a member of staff where I could wash my hands. They looked suitably stunned, as if I'd asked for my own death certificate then stuttered, " You'll have to use the basin in the bay you want." Superb hand-washing management, you must agree.
If you're attending a clinic then you have to use the basins in a public lavatory - if you can find one - because clinic areas don't have wash-hand basins for public use. They are all in the consulting rooms.
I can't deny there are plenty bottles of hand-gel dotted along walls but there is nothing to tell the public that hand-gel does not destroy the c.difficile spores. Hot water and soap is the only deterrent. In the ward I was visiting there is a notice on the wall stating the number and dates of the last outbreaks of MRSA and c.difficile. That would really encourage confidence in me had I had been rushed there semi-conscious as was my friend.
So this week I decided I would snap on a pair of disposable gloves when entering the building and put them in the waste bin upon departure. Along with other sensible measures, such as refusing the offer of any food or drink, I'm hoping I will avoid anything to do with the c.difficile bug. If I contracted it a second time I doubt I would survive.
If hospitals can't provide hand washing facilities then perhaps they can provide disposable gloves at the entrances? A couple of pairs could see most visitors through the ordeal of fighting unseen life-threatening infections. Ninewells could be one of the best places to start a serious hygiene programme given recent events.
It's time the NHS in Scotland paid as much attention to hygiene as it does to funding Health Scotland.com.