Ipswich: Hospital launches cleaning investigation after mouldy bottles found

IPSWICH: An investigation is today under way at Ipswich Hospital after mouldy cleaning bottles were discovered – sparking fears the substance inside could put patients at risk.

Senior managers at the Heath Road trust took immediate action when the bottles were handed to them by cleaning staff working for ISS, who took over the multi-million pound cleaning contract at the hospital in October 2010.

Tests are ongoing but Jan Ingle, hospital spokeswoman, said at this stage the substance is not thought to be harmful to patients.

One whistleblower told The Star he and colleagues first found the bottles in May.

He said he raised concerns with his supervisors, questioning whether the cleaning fluids inside the bottles were strong enough to properly clean the hospital if they were allowing bacteria to grow inside the plastic.


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“We were worried that patients could be at risk,” he said.

It comes as Ipswich MP Ben Gummer blasts ISS bosses in an open letter for their management of staff and highlights the concerns members of staff have raised with him that equipment is not up to standard.

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The letter states: “I have heard time and again of the poor treatment of your staff by your company, of your harsh working practices and of your failure to provide the right equipment for them to do their job.”

Trust spokeswoman Mrs Ingle said the safety of patients is “our top priority” and added that the trust takes “any concerns about cleaning and cleanliness very seriously”.

“We took action straight away and investigated the concerns raised by a very small number of staff in one specific area of the hospital about spray cleaning bottles found with mould growing inside them,” she said.

“This action included thorough testing of the bottles to determine whether the substances in the bottles were harmful. The tests are ongoing and at this stage it is not thought the substances to be harmful to patient safety.

“The contract we have with ISS, the company who provide cleaning, catering, portering and security services at the hospital, sets out clear standards for each service.

“Cleaning and cleanliness are monitored throughout the hospital several times a day to ensure the standards are being met.”

An ISS spokesman added: “We take our role at the hospital very seriously and are totally committed to ensuring a safe, clean environment for patients, visitors and healthcare professionals alike.

“Ongoing auditing has shown that we continue to meet all cleaning standards as defined in the national specifications for cleanliness set by the NHS.

“We are aware of these specific claims and are working closely with the Trust. We continuously monitor both equipment and cleaning chemicals and know that there have not been any shortages or risk to patient care on the site.”

n What do you think about the cleanliness of the hospital? Write to health reporter Lizzie Parry at Ipswich Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail lizzie.parry@archant.co.uk

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