Another day, another embarrassing report on hospital hygiene. Today’s reveals that hospitals throughout
England are struggling to contain vermin outbreaks in wards and clinics. The BBC reported yesterday that “70% of NHS Trusts brought in pest controllers at least 50 times between January 2006 and March 2008”. The figures, brought to light through enquires made by the Conservatives, reveal that ants, rats, mice and fleas are a common feature of many hospitals.
The Healthcare Commission have downplayed the recent revelation, claiming that vermin do not pose a substantial threat to patients. But this meek response can not disguise the fact that there are indeed problems infesting the NHS, many of which are a serious threat to patients. The day-to-day running of hospitals has been deteriorating under the current government, and will not improve until local hospitals are made accountable for their performance. Decentralizing the current system- giving local hospitals more power to make necessary reforms and establish suitable pay and conditions - and removing politicians from crucial managerial positions - replacing them with experienced managers and senior doctors – would help move us away from the “hope the bed bugs don’t bite” approach to hospital management, to one where we actually fight the bed bugs.