BBC OnePanorama


Page last updated at 15:29 GMT, Monday, 28 April 2008 16:29 UK

What You've Said

Sally Magnusson
Panorama Special: How Safe is Your Hospital was broadcast on BBC One at 10.20pm on Sunday 27 April 2008

Thank you for sending us your views on Panorama: How Safe is Your Hospital?

The debate is now closed but a selection of your comments are published below.

I'm a student nurse and know exactly how bad some wards are. Ive just got myself private healthcare, put it that way! Last summer I was placed on a ward at the local hospital and I had never seen anything like it in my life! Nurses were giving wrong doses of drugs and using dangerous techniques when preparing IV drugs. I heard people swearing at patients because they were incontinent. A patient was dying and they told me not to ring the family as we didn't have time because we had to do the routine observations on everyone else. I rang them anyway and lucky I did as the patient died shortly after they got there. Many awful things happened on that ward and I begged University to get me out of there because I couldn't stand the way the patients were treated. The care was disgusting. I would never ever let a relative stay on that ward and I'm not surprised the NHS is in a state if there are wards like that!
Sam, Hillingdon UK

It amazes me how much hospitals are trying to beat bugs such as MRSA and C Diff by cleaning wards thoroughly, but what about other public areas in hospitals/public places. For example: My guess is that cleaning staff don't clean doors and door handles, which must be extremely common places to pick up these infections on ones hands - especially doors on the toilets. I'd be interested to see just what germs are on on doors and door handles, both in hospitals and other public areas such as supermarkets.
Mrs Eardley, Nuneaton

A superb programme. Many thanks for presenting it. As a GP I can concur with the appalling inferences of the programme. How was this horrific scenario allowed to come about? I assume that it is an inevitable consequence of the privatisation of the cleaning services many years ago and the present quest for boxes, ticks and targets which result in a false economy with tragic consequences.
Michael Nelki, United Kingdom

The attempts to control C dificile virus through steam cleaning and super hygiene regimes whilst laudable do not get to the core of the problem. The disease is a direct result of too many antibiotics being handed out to people without insisting that people take daily probotics to replace the lost friendly bacteria in the colon. Had most of these patients just been told to take such precautions many would have had the defences to fight off the virus before it became fatal. Likewise, why weren't the patients offered a complete colonic irrigation the moment they were diagnosed with the virus. No hopsital will ever be totally hygienic, it is unrealistic to think otherwsie.
Edward Hill, Spain

I contracted c.diff in 2004 after going into hospital with pneumonia. I was discharged at 2 pm and by 6.30 pm was suffering with diarrhoea, and after a month was put into hospital in isolation. I had already complained about the lack of cleanliness in the ward whilst in the first time. I am still suffering with incontinence, and have to be cleaned like a baby, there is no warning it just happens at any time, but if I do anything physical it makes it worse. The doctors will not accept that my bowel/colon were damaged by the c.diff. I wonder how many other people are suffering in the same way, with little help, other than being told to "insert a bung". The hospital sent them in the post to me.
Keith Hobson, Droitwich Spa, Worcestershire, England

Understandably, the programme emphasised the high mortality rates associated with C.difficile but largely ignored the many thousands of patients who survived but still suffer from long-term after-effects. My partner's father went into hospital in late 2005 for what should have been a fairly straightforward surgical procedure but he contracted C.difficile. Some two-and-a-half years later he is virtually an invalid, with chronic debility and incontinence, and now seems unlikely to recover completely. In my view, infection control measures still fall very much short of what is required to keep these very nasty superbugs under control.
David Cotton, Leicester, U.K.

My husband caught C.Diff when he was in Basildon hospital, and lost two stone in weight, and his mental health got so bad with all the trauma and isolation for nearly three months he is a broken man. I just cried when I read about how some had to stay in a mixed ward, this is a terrible illness, and my husband who also has Parkinson's was desperately trying to clean himself up as he was so ashamed, hence the breakdown, I just thank God he pulled through, when I complained about him being 'dirty' they sent a nurse in every hour to check on him, but surely they should have done that without me having to write to the consultant for help.
Joyce Gillham, Grays Essex

This is a hobby horse for me. I felt very strongly that we should be sending Senior Nurses in to all the major hospitals to bring in good working practices. However your programme helped me to understand more about it and hopefully will help the Government and NHS to spend whatever money is necessary to rid us of this terrible problem. Well done for doing so well and let us have a follow up, please.
Caroline Buckler, Banbury

My husband is currently in a French Hospital suffering from C Diff. The programme's revelations about over crowding, understaffing and hygiene just do not do credit to the problem. My husband has been in an en-suite private room for the duration of 4 major operations. The hospital is sparkling clean, there are plenty of staff and he still caught it. It is worse than in England in that no-one will comment on the disease although we have his laboratory report saying that he has contracted C Diff. The care he receives is superb. However,the anger and frustration is that there is no advice for patients and relatives. We have no idea how long he will be in hospital (currently 4 weeks), if it is likely to recur, how we can help rebuild his "good bacteria" - the only information is on the internet saying take probiotic yoghurts etc. I think that all relatives as well as patients should be given advice by counsellors.
Sue Halliday, France

The Panorama Special concentrated mainly on the Kent hospitals, I seriously dread to think what the situation is all over the country. I have read the selection of comments you have printed on your comments page and some of them come from nice people who obviously care about their fellow man kind, then you have some from people who say things which make my blood boil. My Mum died in 2005 a week after getting C.difficule. My Father died in 2000 with MRSA - at that time it was not on the Death Certificate, but it was most certainly one of the causes. I have lost both my parents aged 76 and 78, not really very old, ahead of time from hospital superbugs. These people did not deserve to die in this way. We owe it to future generations to rid our country of the problem. If I get ill I am off to another country where at least I might be safe!
Elizabeth Donovan, Swindon, Wiltshire

I think the programme was very informative. The nurses in this country are overstreatched,and work very hard and do all they can in not a lot of time for the patients in their care
Debi Gosling, Plymouth uk.

The programme said that 270 million has been given, to employ 5000 more modern matrons and infection control nurses. That money would be far better spent on cleaners being employed by the hospitals instead of contracted out and more of them per ward and department, thereby ensuring continual, constant and thorough cleaning. In my experience modern matrons justify their over-inflated salaries by walking around with clipboards ticking boxes! Oh yes, and of course attending countless meetings!
Cindy, Surrey UK

I am a student nurse, and although I do agree that outbreaks of c. diff. could be minimized, I feel if there were more qualified nursing staff available to wards, there would be less infection. I feel the government is using unqualified staff, who do not always have the knowledge of procedures, and why things are done in a specific way, to boost staff numbers on wards. I feel this will, and has had a detrimental affect on patient care. I believe it is not the nurses fault as such, it is the governments for not giving the NHS the funding it needs to function to its capacity.
Sarah Webster, Wrexham

I retired two years ago after 40 years nursing, A&E for 27 years. Latterly the standard of basic hygiene drove me to despair. So your programme tonight comes as no surprise. I was the silly old nurse who nagged about cleanliness and basic hygiene. I'm glad I am no longer a nurse and scared to death of being a patient!!!!
Lesley Janr Thomson, Barrhead, Scotland

The programme was vague and tending to sensationalize. No attempt was made to verify any information and at no time did I hear a suggestion to investigate any of the "other" countries "which had a much lower incidence", to see why they were so low.
Godfrey Earnshaw, Crawley, England

Be quite clear - Government health targets are being applied with complete ruthlessness. This applies to cost savings just as much as waiting times. One cannot condone the management at Maidstone for their mistakes but I would defy anyone not to defer to the enormous pressures exerted by the Department of Health. Targets applied across the board do not make for good health care.
Stephen Morgan, Sunderland, UK.

I have been to better hospitals in Bangkok and the poorest countries in Asia than the dump which is "Maidstone Hospital" - I pity anybody unfortunate enough to be a patient at this hospital and the staff must just dread working in this hell-hole. In 2007 I visited and the walls had brown smears all over them and some of the staff smelt like they never had a shower. I would never visit again, I'd rather die at home untreated!
Lizma, Maidstone

It is a well known fact that hospital trusts lie about their levels of inflection as a function of the bullying from the Dept of Health. I bet if there was some independent assessment of infection then the results would terrify us all!!
James Todd, Torquay, Devon.

And they say other countries are Third world !
Michael Seymour, Kent UK

I am a newly qualified nurse and in February this year I was diagnosed with C.Difficile and Collitus brought on by C.Diff. I contracted this superbug in the community when I was given a very high dose of antibiotics for a urinary tract infection. I was nursed in Stoke Mandeville the hospital I was training at and put in a side room. I cannot fault the hospital for their treatment of me and was visited by infection control and full barrier nursing was implemented by staff immediately. I was incredibly ill and was in hospital for a week (missing my graduation!) and was treated with vancomicin. I was 34 year old previously fit and healthy and am still recovering from this illness. I observed excellent hand hygiene by staff and doctors.
Kirsten Gittins, Buckingham, Bucks

I was most impressed with this programme. It's about time that we were all made more aware of this awful contagion. I found the answers and attitude of the bureaucrats and ministers so bland as to be gobbledygook, and no little self pity!!
David Knowles, Sutton Coldfield

Alcohol Gel dispensers are, in my experience, used by a minority of visitors, and even staff. Extra personnel required to personally dispense gel at all ward entrances. Even cruise liners do this at self service restaurants.
Peter Farmery, Sheffield, England

Good programme. Unfortunately I feel that the "improvements" seen when Sally returned to the hospital concerned were orchestrated solely because they knew Sally and her entourage were coming. I am a nurse and when we know audits or commission representatives are coming we are all instructed to rush around and make special preparations that simply would not happen unless we were due an inspection. The reason? Staff = money. Fewer staff = more savings = target savings = bigger bonuses for managers. The hospital I work in has rusty commodes and (because it is a mental hospital) no uniforms, so any bacteria on nurses' clothing goes straight out into the community. We run at 90%+ bed occupancy and little effort is made to clean beds in between patients. The programme is on the right lines, but misses the point that those who could enforce changes collude with the budget holders. They have to, if they want to keep their jobs. Meanwhile patients and those who work at their bedside pay the price of second rate care in order to meet targets.
Raye Hallark, Weymouth Dorset

My father-in-law went into hospital for treatment for cancer, and was dead in three days. He got c.diff and yet the hospital did not tell us how ill he was. We asked to see a doctor to explain just what c.diff was but were told they were too busy. Is this what the NHS is all about?.
D Parry, Wallasey England

My sister has been in the ERI for two months, and has had an amputation there. First she got c-diff, and we all then got it including a one year old. She then got MRSA which I now think has now been cleared. The nurses in the first ward she was in did not ask anyone to wash their hands and there was a young child running about twice daily without having washed its hands.
Diana Mackenzie, Edinburgh Scotland

Panorama last night on 'How clean is your hospital' was clear, precise and well constructed. I can just about forgive the rather gratuitous use of the fuzzy green (C.Dif) pattern to show us that a different statistic was being displayed, though presumably viewers are clever enough to understand that the different statistics related to what was being commented on at the time. However, why was a 'music' or electronic sound track included? This was a purely factual, discursive, informative programme aimed at intelligent viewers. Are we now so dumbed down that we have to have bits of pretentious, sombre music to ensure we understand that the situation being discussed is really quite serious. BBC is becoming more and more anti-Reithian and condescending to our intelligence, amply demonstrated by this example.
Anthony Lucas-Smith, Milton Keynes, UK

Potentially very interesting and important programme ruined by distracting graphics - this is supposed to be an intelligent programme. If a programme has something important to say it will stand on its own merits and doesn't need graphics more suitable to Saturday morning children's programme
Janice Whittle, Winchester, UK

I note the rise of 8% in C.Dif in our hospitals resulting in old people dying from it. My mother, aged 86 died in January 2008 at Shrewsbury Royal Hospital, Shrewsbury. She got C.Dif after having a hip operation. My main concerns are how the hospital was the recording the death. The Coroner did not include C.Dif as a 'contributory factor' to her final cause of her passing away. Therefore if this type of inaccurate recording is multiplied I'm sure the data given out on C.Dif will still not reflect the raising numbers dying through this super bug in our hospitals .
Simon Carless, Craven Arms, Wistanstow, Shropshire, U.K.

Thank you for publicising the appalling and disgraceful attitude to patients by hospitals. I think these hospitals hoped we had all gone away so they could put these deaths down to acceptable levels, "so don't complain if someone dies of our filth". For this situation to still be rife, how much does anyone care. What is our Department of Health doing? Why is no one accountable? These hospitals and the Dept of Health should be had up for manslaughter, they knowingly admit people into a dangerous environment and choose not to take precautions to safeguard them. Only this then will get something done. This country with its "health" system is a disgusting disgrace to the whole of the civilised world, yet all that prevails here is "no blame, no standards, no shame". I for one am absolutely terrified of going into a British hospital and will travel to France where they have standards and they care. We wait for the day when cross border health care becomes law in the EU. Thank God for this.
Alexandra Houghton Marshall, Bedford, England

As a cleaner in the Ulster hospital I can say that the cleaning of infected rooms is well covered up and the job is not done right as only 1 person is doing the whole hospital and then going into high risk areas like special baby care unit after doing a c.diff or mrsa room. I also noticed that doctors and families do not clean their hands after going in and out of these rooms. There is more I could say here but the list is long.
Staff, Belfast

Probiotics. The answer to reducing the diarrhoea could be probiotics-biphodiphilus/friendly bacteria. Having been troubled by Irritable Bowel Syndrome, I have found that by taking these and also anti-spasmodics (Colpermin/peppermint capsule and Mebeverine) I can lead a relatively normal life. If I have to leave the house and my tummy is still playing-up, then I take Imodium, also available as Loperamide, or a codeine and paracetamol preparation. I do hope that this information can reduce or halt, even, the tragic losses that are occurring each and every day.
Doreen Vickery, Solihull England

I believe it has been tested and proved that Tea Tree oil and three other oils kills this bug. Why is this hidden in most research? I have only seen one report of results using these oils.
Pat Sheppard, Nottingham

It's great that you are making a programme about C diff BUT, as you say in the programme, C diff is not killed by alcohol gels - hands need to be properly washed to prevent infection - indeed I learned in the programme that the researchers use alcohol shock to provoke the bacteria to create spoors! This was not expressed clearly enough and indeed, in the programme, the presenter repeatedly used the alcohol gel while speaking enforcing an unspoken message that this was the thing to do. The proportion of the programme given to the correct thing for patients and visitors/family/friends to do was very poor and could have been much more helpful.
Sue Maclennan, London UK

I would just like to say the programme was very interesting. I experienced the same re my mother last year at Ashford Hospital, Surrey. She entered the hospital fit but had a small bone broken at the top of her arm after a fall. Within 2 days she had sickness and diarrhoea, but it was not until she died 8 weeks later and after many meetings we were told she had C-Diff. So like many of the comments from relatives it was lack of information as if they knew but did not want the information to get out that the hospital had C-Diff. Thank you for the programme at least I feel better that my mother was not the only one to die a tragic death !
Pamela Barnard, Basingstoke, Hampshire

Thanks Panorama for highlighting this issue. Most hospitals have lost their basic nursing care and cleanliness. Disband executive boards and transfer top dog salaries to where it is needed, on the wards - increase medical staff, with cleaners on the payroll for each and every ward under the control of a matron.
Allan Hunt, Blackburn, Lancashire

Why in 2008 are we still using curtains to surround beds? They must be dripping with infection. Handled by patients, nurses, in fact everybody. Surely solid panels of plastic interlinked could be cleaned daily to clear infection.
Georgina Islip, Worthing Sussex.

My mother died in Walsgrave Hospital in August 2005. The most distressing part for us as a family is that we had to fight to get c diff on her death certificate as her primary cause of death. it was only after we threatened to bring the coroner in that they relented. How many more cases of c diff have gone undetected, which means we really don't know the true figures. My mother suffered for months due to the dirty conditions and lack of care. I hope someone can find a cure for this terrible curse and treat these patients as human beings.
Marilyn Large, Coventry UK

Surely an important factor in the spread of any infection in hospital is the ease with which members of the general public i.e. visitors can come into a ward and have close contact with a patient. Open visiting exacerbates this problem.
Maura McGrath, Ballymena Northern Ireland

Whilst I realise the need to highlight public concern over things such as MRSA and C.Dif, it always proves that much difficult for those of us who work in the health profession. Rather than patients being comforted by nurses, they now see us as the enemy and feel we may play a part in their death. Programmes like this bring low morale to the nursing profession.

Thank you for this excellent and important programme. I feel the programme touched on all the important issues surrounding this subject. Trust management are so focussed on government targets they have taken their eyes off their main function - quality of care. Our Trust has to save 3% each year - they are currently paying Ernst and Young 300,000 to help them save money. The survey is useful - however I do not believe some of the occupancy figures. My own Trust is quoting 82% but that is not my experience at all. They measure at midnight. t
Bryan Rhodes - Consultant Surgeon, UHMB NHS Trust

I have to say that I have found the reporting of C.difficle by Panorama disgraceful. I agree that it is a serious condition once acquired but not once did the programme mention the irresponsible prescribing behaviour of GPs or the expectations of their patients. C difficle on the whole is an antibiotic associated condition, with patients who have been on antibiotics contracting the infection. It is more common place in nursing homes and often find its way into hospital because of a failure to treat it in the community. Unless GPs stop prescribing antibiotics inappropriately and patients stop believing it is their right to be treated with antibiotics for a viral infection, C difficle will be here to stay. It is a problem that the NHS has to contend with but instead of scaremongering perhaps Panorama could actually entertain an adult debate on C difficle!
Mark Bignell,

Your report highlighted that poor nursing staffing levels directly contributed to the C.diff outbreak that you investigated on this programme, yet you have made no attempt to find out what staffing levels are like in your survey. It means that you have missed a very large part of the jigsaw out. Why was this?
Carole Mulley, Shepperton, Middlesex

The real story is cross infection and incorrect use of antibiotics was a hot topic 20 years ago and successive governments ignored it. Now it is all a big news and the subject of government action. The real lesson is listen to the experts and act early - it would have been less expensive both in terms of cost and human life.
David Brown, Bristol UK

My father-in-law recently died in Warrington DGH (North Cheshire Hospitals NHS Trust) and it was only at the inquest, held many months later, that we discovered that he had contracted C Diff. However, this was not shown as a cause of death on the Death Certificate. Keep up the pressure to report!
Geoff Orange, Warrington, Cheshire, UK

Yet again have a hand wringing session about superbugs. Yet there is a treatment! Both MRSA and C.difficille can be treated with bacteriophages (viruses which attack specific bacteria) We seem to be affected by the not invented here syndrome or perhaps because it is not a pharmaceutical we are not using it. There a number of people who have spent many years trying to persuade medical authorities take it more seriously but progress is glacial. Bacteriophages are used in Poland why not here?
Adrian Fairhead, Eastbourne UK


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