Cleanliness in some of Scotland’s hospitals continues to “fall short” of what patients have a right to expect, despite general improvements over the past five years, a report has found.
Concerns about the cleanliness of patient equipment and emergency departments were highlighted in the annual report from the Healthcare Environment Inspectorate (HEI).
It has warned NHS boards that they must not slip in the fight against infection.
The annual report sets out the findings of HEI – which carries out safety and cleanliness checks across hospitals and NHS services – from its 51 inspections to 34 hospitals in 14 NHS boards and two special health boards between October 2013 and December 2014.
It found that NHS boards continue to work hard to raise standards of cleanliness, hygiene and infection control, but there are also a number of key areas for improvement.
HEI has recommended that the Scottish Government should take a “Scotland-wide approach to addressing solutions to the widespread problem of dirty patient equipment”.
The report states: “We continue to find issues with cleanliness on our inspections.
“We found occasions where some cleaning responsibilities were not clear between nursing and domestic staff, for example the cleaning of patient beds.
“In some instances, we were told ‘there is no time to clean’ between patient use.
“We also found the cleanliness of patient equipment was not always being monitored effectively to ensure it was clean and ready for use.
“A common theme from our inspections this year is the poor standard of cleaning in emergency departments.”
Susan Brimelow, chief inspector of HEI, said: “NHS boards continue to work hard to raise standards of cleanliness and we are definitely seeing general improvements across Scotland’s hospitals.
“It is encouraging to see that there have been big steps forward in our hospitals, and these have had a direct impact on patient safety and cleanliness.
“However, this report shows that even after five years of inspections to drive improvements in cleanliness, hygiene and infection control, standards in some NHS boards continue to fall short of what patients have a right to expect.
“This report marks the end of the fifth year of the Healthcare Environment Inspectorate’s work and I am proud of our contribution in supporting safer and cleaner hospitals for patients. NHS Scotland must not slip in the fight against infection. We will continue to shine a light on poor standards through independent and rigorous inspections.”