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Hygiene fears at Northern Ireland hospital as patient raises alarm over 'filthy' conditions


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Craigavon Area Hospital

Craigavon Area Hospital

Craigavon Area Hospital

A Northern Ireland hospital has been slammed for a lack of cleanliness and Covid-19 control measures as the number of coronavirus cases continues to rise.

A concerned patient sent a series of photographs to Sunday Life showing filthy conditions and floors scattered with discarded testing equipment at Craigavon Area Hospital over the last fortnight.

The Southern Health and Social Care Trust, which is responsible for the hospital, stressed cleaning was a priority and urged anyone with concerns to get in touch.

The worried patient, who asked not to be named, said people were being tested for Covid-19 after being admitted to wards, claimed there was a lack of hand-washing among clinical staff and alleged that workmen roamed around wards wearing virtually no personal protective equipment (PPE) as vulnerable patients lay in their beds.

"Going into the respiratory section of the A&E department to get checked in, there was no hand sanitiser in the dispenser," they added.

"Luckily, I had my own hand sanitiser. Now, not all the dispensers were empty, but the main one as you went in was empty the length of the time that I was there, which was a good eight hours-plus.

"That was on admission and the whole time I was there nobody came out to sanitise or clean down any of the seating areas.

"Once I got taken into a cubicle, it hadn't been cleaned down either. It was obvious because there was stuff lying around the floor and the bedsheets were all ruffled. You get your temperature taken by your ear and they use a wee disposable bit of plastic to do that. (Those bits) were lying on the floor - that's even before you got to the wards.

"I was told everyone would be getting tested for Covid-19 in the A&E department before being moved onto wards, but that clearly wasn't the case.

"I did get tested in A&E, but once I was on the ward they brought another patient in and she hadn't been tested, so they tested her for it in the ward.

"If she had it, she brought it onto the ward and it would already have been spread around, which is terrifying.

"It wasn't just a case of that happening once. I was moved to another ward and the same thing had happened.

"I overheard nurses saying another lady hadn't been checked and would need a test.

"The hygiene on the wards was appalling as well. The whole time I was there, the floors weren't brushed or mopped, my bed wasn't changed once and there were tablets lying on the floor with people walking past them."

The worried patient said that while they were shocked by the conditions, they could not fault the dedication of the staff.

"The staff are amazing. The care was really good and they were doing their best, but I just think they're under so much pressure," they told this newspaper.

A spokesman for the Southern Health and Social Care Trust said: "Cleaning is a priority in all areas of the hospital.

"There are dedicated cleaning teams based in the emergency department, with all cubicles cleaned after each patient and toilets cleaned multiple times a day.

"There are 30 hand sanitisers throughout the department. All patients are swabbed in the emergency department before admission to a ward.

"Appropriate PPE is a requirement for staff in the emergency department.

"If anyone sees anything which causes them concern, we would urge them to immediately advise staff.

"We want everyone who comes to the department to be confident with the care they receive from our staff and know that the environment is clean."

Last week official data from the Department of Health showed the rate at which coronavirus was spreading from person to person was on the rise again.

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