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Wednesday, 5 April, 2000, 15:13 GMT 16:13 UK
Patients catching hospital bugs
Hospital corridor
Patients are picking up infections because of low standards
Some hospitals in Scotland are failing to meet minimum cleaning standards, according to a report.

The Auditor General for Scotland, Robert Black, is calling for better management of domestic services to improve cleaning and increase levels of infection control.

His report says 10% of hospitals do not come up to scratch.

Our report is an early warning to management in Scottish hospitals that there's an issue here that they should take seriously

Robert Black
In a fifth of hospitals, infection control teams and domestic services are not working together to ensure adequate cleanliness levels.

The report says in a third of all wards, toilets, sinks and baths are cleaned less often than they should be.

UK figures suggest that at any one time, nine per cent of in-patients have a infection caught in hospital.

Applied to Scotland, that would mean 10,000 infections a year at a cost to the NHS of 100m.

'Serious issue'

Mr Black said: "Our report is an early warning to management in Scottish hospitals that there's an issue here that they should take seriously.

"It's unacceptable that a significant number of hospitals don't seem to have appropriate standards set in the important area.

"Commonsense tells us that as wards are being improperly cleaned, then there must be a greater risk of infection being spread.

"Therefore, we are saying that as part of good management, our hospitals should ensure the highest standards of cleanliness and not everyone is doing that."

The Scottish Association of Health Councils said that maintaining appropriate hygene standards was not "rocket science".

The council called for the names of the hospitals failing to meet minimum standards to be made public.

'5,000 deaths a year'

Health Minister Susan Seacon is to write to the chief executive of each NHS trust in Scotland, reminding of them of their obligations to provide minimum standards of hygiene.

In February, the National Audit Office said up to 5,000 people die each year from infections picked up in hospitals in England.

The problem annually affects 100,000 people and costs the National Health Service 1bn, says the National Audit Office.

It is thought deadly infections are often spread by hygiene rules being broken, like doctors not washing their hands in between treating patients.

The NAO made a series of recommendations aimed at tightening procedures and increasing investment in infection control, saying that there is "scope to do a lot more".

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17 Feb 00 | Health
NHS bugs 'kill 5,000 a year'
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