Blair's Hospital a 'Health Hazard'

Article excerpt

Byline: REBECCA SMITH

A MAJOR London hospital has admitted it is losing the battle to keep its casualty department clean.

Managers at the Royal Free, which last night treated Tony Blair, say they do not have enough cleaners to cope.

It comes after Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt signalled tougher penalties for hospitals which fail to combat the MRSA superbug.

The Royal Free admitted to " problems maintaining hygiene" after patient Gerald Gaffin criticised standardsof cleanliness there. Retired dentist Mr Gaffin, who worked in the NHS for 40 years, said: "I was shocked. I found blood spattered on the floor and walls of the accident and emergency department. It was terrible. Even a charge nurse told me that it was 'grim.'

" Mr Gaffin, of Hampstead, said: "The tragedy is that politicians talk of a billion pounds invested in the NHS. If you go to the Royal Free, you would be hard pressed to see any signs of it." When a bed was finally found for him he said that cleaners left needle covers and other medical debris underneath his bed and locker.

He also had to wait six hours on a ward as doctors finished paperwork to discharge him.

In a letter to hospital chiefs, Mr Gaffin said: "While your medical staff, doctors and nurses alike, are prepared to do their utmost for patients within the hospital, the underlying management systems are simply not up to the demands of the 21st century." Lorna Donegan, the hospital's divisional director of medical

specialities, said today: "At the moment there are some problems maintaining hygiene standards in A&E since the department does not currently have 24-hour access to domestic staff. …