VISITORS are still being urged to wash their hands and stop germs spreading at Dorset County Hospital.

Patient governor Derek Julian has raised concerns that guests, inpatients and staff are not cleaning their hands when they walk through the door.

But he was told at a meeting that the hospital does not have any powers to enforce hand cleansing. It can only advise people to take appropriate measures.

In 2011, it was revealed that hand hygiene targets at the hospital were not being met.

Chief executive Jean O’Callaghan said she is ‘reasonably satisfied’ with hand hygiene levels at the hospital today.

Mr Julian said there was ‘no doubt’ the nurses had improved their hygiene.

But he said he was ‘shocked’ to hear a GP say she had been on a visit to the hospital and watched a nurse handle a patient without washing her hands. He said: “It’s a significant issue when people are getting off the bus, walking straight into the wards and cuddling patients.

“This is ridiculous. Why is there not someone on the door saying ‘do you mind putting on hand gel?’ “If someone has germs on their hands and touches a lift button that can infect the area for up to six hours.”

Mr Julian said on some cruise ships, diners are expected to put on hand gel before they go to the dining room.

He added: “We are talking about someone in a hospital, why can’t we do better?”

But he was told by chief executive Jean O’Callaghan: “We can recommend that people keep their hands as clean as possible at all times, but if someone says ‘I am not going to’ we can’t stop them from visiting their relative.”

Mrs O’Callaghan said that at regular meetings she asks departments to give an update on their hygiene levels.

She added: “Should any be below a certain level then the ward charge is required to come along and explain what their plan is to improve.”

Governor Chrissie Bailey said staff get ‘very confused’ because they are asked to follow specific guidelines which require them to wash their hands at the ‘point of contact’ and not when entering the hospital.