Hospitals suffer 20,000 pest outbreaks

Almost 20,000 incidents of pest infestation have broken out at hospitals over the past two years, it was revealed today.

Outbreaks have included rats in maternity wards, wasps and fleas in neo-natal units and maggots in patients' slippers.

But the Government dismissed suggestions that the problems were linked to spread of hospital-acquired infections like MRSA and insisted the threat to patient safety was "negligible".

The details - released under the Freedom of Information Act - were obtained by the Tories, who contacted all 171 NHS trusts in England.

Of the 127 which responded, almost all were said to have experienced some problems.

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

"It is difficult for health service estates to maintain a completely pest-free environment but the level and variety of these infections is concerning.

"We need greater transparency in NHS infection control, and publishing data like this is one way in which we can drive up overall hygiene standards."

There were almost 20,000 reports of pest problems, while seven out of 10 trusts said they had called in pest control officers more than 50 times since January 2006.

The figures showed that 80 per cent of NHS Trusts reported problems with ants, 66 per cent with rats and 77 per cent with mice.

Cockroaches were said to have been reported at 59 per cent of trusts, fleas or other biting insects at 65 per cent, and bed bugs at 24 per cent.

A further 6 per cent of trusts reported infestations of maggots. Many of the problems were said to have occurred in clinical areas.

Vanessa Bourne, from The Patients Association, said: "Such findings are truly revolting. How can patients be safe amid bed bugs, fleas and rats?

"Once again safety is just rhetoric and not a reality for patients, particularly the elderly and those with suppressed immunity.

"What about those trusts who ignored this Freedom of Information request and said nothing? If these are the standards of those 'coming clean', what does it say about those who stayed silent?

"These findings reveal what happens when money is taken away from where patients expect to see it spent. If these hospitals were restaurants they would be closed down and out of business. Trust Boards must get a grip and show patients they are serious about their legal responsibility for safety."

Health Minister Ivan Lewis said it was up to NHS Trusts to ensure that hospitals were clean and safe for patients.

But he insisted that, so far, there was little evidence of any threat to patient safety.

"The use of pest control is seen as good, proactive management," he said.

"The Health Care Commission have confirmed that health concerns around pest control have, to date, been negligible.

"The claim that insects spread hospital-acquired infections is entirely unproven. There is no evidence of their carriage of antibiotic-resistant bacteria being a hazard to patients.

"Despite this, we expect hospitals to take continued action to tackle these pest problems."

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Ashdown Group: Learning and Development Advisor - (HR, L&D) - Rugby

    £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful and well established busi...

    Recruitment Genius: Product Owner - Business Analyst

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Product Owner/Business Analyst is required t...

    Recruitment Genius: Quality Technician

    £28800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is going through a period o...

    Recruitment Genius: Administrative Assistant / Order Fulfilment

    £14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join a thrivi...

    Day In a Page

    Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

    Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

    Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
    DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

    The inside track on France's trial of the year

    Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
    As provocative now as they ever were

    Sarah Kane season

    Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

    Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
    Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

    Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

    One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
    The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

    The enemy within

    People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
    Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

    Autumn/winter menswear 2015

    The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    Army general planning to come out
    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
    Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

    The geeks who rocked the world

    A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
    Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

    Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

    Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea