“This represented a significant increase compared to 2014 when one in 10 hospitals required reinspection,” the State’s health services watchdog reported yesterday.
The Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) inspection report showed patients are at risk of infections because of poor levels of cleanliness and there was considerable room for improvement.
Hiqa’s head of healthcare, Susan Cliffe, said a clean and safe hospital environment was a fundamental expectation for patients, staff and visitors.
“An acceptable standard of basic cleanliness is both essential and achievable with better management and oversight of cleaning performance,” she said.
Last year, 39 unannounced inspections were carried out by HIQA in 32 public acute hospitals, with poor hygiene observed in seven.
The hospitals reinspected were:
- Kerry General Hospital, Tralee, Co Kerry;
- Letterkenny General Hospital, Co Donegal;
- Midland Regional Hospital, Mullingar, Co Westmeath;
- National Maternity Hospital, Holles St, Dublin;
- Our Lady of Lourdes Hosptial, Drogheda, Co Louth;
- Portiuncula Hospital, Ballinasloe, Co Galway;
- South Infirmary Victoria University Hospital, Cork.
Six of the seven hospitals had addressed most of the risks identified in the first inspection but there was no improvement in the standard of environmental hygiene at Letterkenny General Hospital.
The inspectors examined clinical areas, including operating theatres, endoscopy suites, haematology, oncology, intensive care and coronary care units.
Hiqa said the increased focus on such high-risk areas highlighted the need to review the current infrastructure and its maintenance in hospitals. Inspectors found many cases where the infrastructure and facilities provided were inadequate, outdated and/or poorly maintained.
Also, the infrastructure did not always support the implementation of best infection prevention and control practises.
However, HIQA said older infrastructures could still be cleaned with the provision of effective management and oversight, adequate resources and staff trained to do the job. A lack of resources, high occupancy and activity levels were most frequent reasons for not acting.