Monday, March 8, 2010

Rats, fleas and mice plague hospitals

RATS, fleas, mice and bed bugs have been plaguing Addenbrooke's Hospital wards.

Health chiefs are itching to get to the bottom of why more than a dozen infestations happened in the last year - which included a "suspected
Bosses paid pest controllers £20,000 in 2008/9 to rid wards and staff areas in the prestigious Cambridge University hospital of disease carrying vermin.

Figures released to the News under the Freedom of Information Act revealed the extent of the problem at the massive hospital.

Critics have accused hospital chiefs of having their eye on hitting targets rather than keeping their noses to the ground to sniff out disease carriers.

Cllr Geoff Heathcock, chairman of Cambridgeshire County Council's health scrutiny committee, said: "I am absolutely appalled that in the 21st Century, the largest hospital in the county can have such a wide ranging problem with infestation.

"This poses many questions about how high up the board's priorities cleanliness really is rather than chasing imposed performance targets."

But health chiefs insist they have a clean record on pest control compared to other trusts.

An Addenbrooke's spokeswoman said: "Our patients expect 100 per cent expert care in a clean, safe and comfortable environment. The trust takes pest control very seriously and employs an external company to perform monthly routine monitoring, provide advice and treat any infestations."

Previous figures revealed Hinchingbrooke Health Care NHS Trust called out pest controllers 228 times between January 2006 and April 2008 to deal with rodents and insects.

The results of the Freedom of Information Act request also showed Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Addenbrooke's, had problems with ants, wasps and flies.

No information was collected from Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust which has a contract with a pest control company.

Hinchingbrooke revealed it had to deal with rats, mice, ants, biting insects, fleas, wasps, flies, squirrels, silverfish, bugs, woodlice, bees, hornets and "unspecified insects".