Page last updated at 10:33 GMT, Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Hospital hand gels 'being drunk'

Hand gel
The hand gel can contain up to 70% alcohol levels

A hospital in Dorset is one of many removing alcohol-based hand cleaning gel from reception areas in a bid to stop visitors drinking it.

The National Concern for Healthcare Infections says the gel, which contains up to 70% alcohol levels, is being stolen and mixed with other drinks.

Two homeless people died in London last year after drinking the gel.

The Royal Bournemouth Hospital has removed dispensers from reception areas and those in wards are now supervised.

Dr Bill Gransden, director of infection control at the hospital, said: "[Visitors] have the opportunity to wash their hands and apply the gel in the clinical area, which is the ward next to where the patients are.

We have heard many stories of people going along and putting it into their orange juice

Neil Manser, National Concern for Healthcare Infections

"That will be very closely supervised by nursing and other clinical staff.

"Where it really matters, next to the patient and in that environment, I am happy we have got really good supervision."

He said there had been no reports of incidents or bottles of the gel being stolen.

But it is one of many hospitals in the UK to bring in the extra measures after recommendations from the National Patient Safety Agency.

Poole General Hospital said it was aware of the problem but said its dispensers were already only available at the entrances to wards.

While Southampton University Hospitals NHS Trust said it was carrying out a risk assessment before making any changes.

Neil Manser, co-founder of National Concern for Healthcare Infections, said: "Unfortunately we have people in this society who are addicted to alcohol.

"We have heard many stories of people going along and putting it into their orange juice."

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