Dorset County Hospital told to clean up its act

Director of nursing and operations Alison Tong

Director of nursing and operations Alison Tong

First published in Campaigns Dorset Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Reporter

INSPECTORS were confronted with filthy wards during a spot-check at Dorset County Hospital.

The under-fire hospital failed to meet the core standards relating to infection control and decontamination after inspectors found dirty commodes and mattresses.

They also said that staff had not been properly trained about the importance of cleanliness.

The claim comes a day after a controversial report claimed that the death rate at the hospital was above average.

The Dr Foster Hospital Guide gave the establishment a safety score of just 10.96 out of 100.

The latest report by the Care Quality Commission found that on an unannounced inspection, inspectors found that the trust ‘breached its regulation to protect patients, workers and others from the risks of acquiring a healthcare-associated infection’.

The report comes at a time when cleaning staff at DCH fear their hours will be cut in order to help the hospital save costs.

The commission demanded improvements were made and revisited the 394-bed hospital 10 days later to ensure they had been.

Inspectors concluded that the trust had taken action to protect its staff and patients.

The daughter of a war hero who said her father went into hospital with a broken hip and died after ‘months of neglect’ hit out at the hygiene standards on her father’s ward.

Carol Powles claims that 86-year-old Leslie Sherwood’s situation was the result of neglect and often being left in bedclothes soaked in urine. She said: “The things we saw when my father was on the Barnes ward were terrible – bins were overflowing with yellow infection control bags and aprons.

“I wouldn’t blame the actual nurses but the management; in my opinion there are too many chiefs and not enough actual staff and cleaners to do the job.

“They work long, 12-hour shifts and by the end of it they are completely worn out.

She added: “I hate to think what it would be like if they lost any staff and standards got any worse.”

Karl Wallace, Dorset county councillor and nurse at a different hospital, said: “These kind of standards show what happens when staff numbers are cut back to the bone.

“Corners will be cut because the staff are living a manic, hand to mouth existence and this does not mean that hygienic standards will be high.”

Alison Tong, director of nursing and operations at the hospital, said: “Since the Care Quality Commission’s report – which was published in October – in which the commission found that the trust had taken appropriate action to protect patients and from the risks of acquiring a healthcare associated infection, the CQC has made a further visit, unannounced, to the hospital.

“At this visit, the hospital was given a clean bill of health.”

Mrs Tong added: “Indeed, from the original inspection, of the 15 measures inspected, the CQC were satisfied with 14.

“This demonstrates that the trust regards hygiene standards as being of great importance and has taken the necessary action to ensure that these are consistently being maintained.

“Care has been taken to ensure that cleaning services are adequately staffed and the trust will continue in its policy of not compromising these standards.”

The healthcare commission rated the trust as ‘excellent’ for quality of services and ‘good’ for the use of resources in their annual healthcheck for 2007 to 2008.

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