Susan Brimelow, Chief Inspector
Healthcare Environment Inspectorate
The Healthcare Environment Inspectorate, established in April, has made its first NHS board report. Results would probably be classed 'could do better' for Stirling Royal Infirmary, the hospital visited.
'Several areas of concern were noted in ward six, including dusty floors, the lack of a domestic waste bin in the patient toilets, cobwebs and a dirty toilet. The patient day room was being used to store equipment and the patient bathroom was being used as a staff toilet'.
I would be most concerned if I was responsible for ward six but it seeme there are no problems because the report states 'A panel of eight patients were happy with the hospital'.
The hospital was commended for using motion-activated recordings to prompt people entering wards to wash their hands.
I hope the facilities to wash hands are better than Ninewells Hospital in Dundee. They must be because, on my recent unexpected visits to Ninewells, at the main entrance a male voice roars 'please wash your hands before entering wards'. Great I thought, a massive improvement and much needed, as I walked what seemed a mile to find Ward 25. After long corridors, down stairs, more corridors I finally found the ward entrance door. Where was the basin to wash my hands? Inside I thought, so off I drifted through the door to report to the nurses station truly expecting a washbasin to be visible. Nothing. Oh, that's untrue - there were bottles of hand gel available on the ward corridors.
As some of my readers may know I contacted clostridium difficile a couple of years ago and I keep an eagle eye on the progress made in the prevention of this debilitating bug. Infections such as this are usually spread through poor hand washing, but I am now convinced the growth of this infection in recent times is due to people being falsely led to believe hand gels kill all infections. They do not. Only hot water and soap kills c.difficile and for surfaces bleach is recommended.
Ninewells will not be the only hospital to have hand-washing announcements but they have to provide washbasins, soap and paper towels for people both entering and leaving the hospital. The public ladies has been renovated recently and it's now half its size and reduced to three washbasins. There is usually quite a queue. Surely a washbasin or two situated inside each ward door wouldn't be too expensive to install - accompanied by the roar of the motion-activated male of course!
One good aspect of the new Healthcare Environment Inspectorate is that every acute hospital will receive at least one announced and one unannounced inspection within a three-year cycle. Why inspections have to be announced at all defeats me. Perhaps someone can explain the necessity.