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Action needed on hospitals hygiene report

7 November, 2005

The Report of the first ever Hospitals Hygiene Audit was published by the Health Service Executive last week and is highly critical of overall standards of hygiene in Irish hospitals. Results in individual hospitals vary widely and there is a lack of consistency across the services, leading the HSE to recommend changes to ensure better practices and cleaner hospitals.

Only 9% of hospitals achieve what the HSE describes as a ‘good result’ – scoring 84-100%. Hospitals that score 76 to 84% are described as ‘fair’ while those with 75% or under are ‘poor’. Cavan General Hospital appears at the higher end of the ‘poor’ category with a score of 71% while Monaghan General Hospital is ‘fair’ at 78%. One of the two lowest scoring hospitals is Beaumont in Dublin.

Commenting on the HSE report, Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health and Children Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD said:    

"This is a very grave report which starkly highlights the gross inadequacies in hospital hygiene throughout this State. A comprehensive response is essential. Issues which must be addressed include the need to improve cleaning and waste disposal services in all hospitals and to standardise best practice across the system. All factors need to be considered including the adequacy of staff numbers, the issue of in-house cleaners as opposed to contract cleaners, and pay and conditions for all cleaning staff. 

“The score given in this report for individual hospitals should not be taken as criticism of those hospitals or their staff. In many cases such as Cavan General Hospital, overcrowding and inadequate staff numbers undoubtedly contribute to the problem. And this in turn cannot be divorced from overall policy, such as centralisation and the cutting of services in Monaghan, leading to greater pressure on Cavan. Clearly Beaumont, with the massive pressure on staff there, is a prime example of this.

"The report also highlights the need to combat the high incidence of MRSA infection in Irish hospitals. We need to know the full extent of the problem. It is now a common experience that patients and their relatives are not being informed when patients have contracted MRSA in hospitals. This must change and all patients who contract MRSA must be fully informed, as must their relatives," concluded Deputy Ó Caoláin. ENDS

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