Undercover nurses expose 'dirty' Ealing Hospital

Channel 4's 'Dispatches' raises cleanliness concerns

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A TV documentary has raised further questions about the standards of care and cleanliness in local hospital. Nurses used tiny hidden cameras to show how the working practises within the hospital.

Channel 4's �Dispatches� shown this Monday on national television highlighted a poor level of cleanliness, the inconsistent quality of care patients received, with some being left wet for hours, as well as others being given food they couldn't eat.

Similar concerns about the hospital had already been voiced by local Lib Dem councillor Gary Malcolm. Gary is a patient of the hospital and has says that his personal experience bore out much of the content of the programme.

He said: “I have said for a number of years that Ealing hospital has not been run effectively. The video documentary shows clearly that much needs to be done to improve the cleanliness. Lib Dems believe patients deserve respect and dignity.”

Other details highlighted by the undercover nurse were:

•  An elderly patient with a dry and sore mouth was left uncleaned so making eating impossible
•  Another patient left for hours after wetting herself
•  One patient seemed to have had faecal waste leaking into a badly bandaged wound
•  One toilet was left leaking one more than one occasion and faecal matter was left uncleaned while there was a dispute as to who should clean it up
•  A room that contained an MRSA (superbug) patient previously was not cleaned and not labelled to state that an MRSA patient had used the room, thus allowing MRSA to potentially infect other nurses and patients
•  There were nurses who had to wait when their shift had finished as the �changeover' nurse had not arrived � one was on her mobile phone chatting

Gary Malcolm said, �With staffing and nursing shortages, nurses have a difficult job but the basics do not seem to have been done here. Ealing Hospital needs to admit its mistakes and then fix them so patients are not harmed.�

In figures produced for the Department of Health, in the year up to March 2004, Ealing Hospital was in the worst 5 General Acute hospitals with 0.26 cases of MRSA per thousand bed-days (the worst General Acute hospital recorded 0.33 cases and the best 0.05 cases; some hospitals are more vulnerable to MRSA as a result of the types of work they carry out and other factors, including cleanliness).

Rate of MRSA per 1000 bed days
Apr 01-Mar 02
Apr 02 - Mar 03
Apr 03 - Mar 04

The Hospital says

"Ealing Hospital NHS Trust takes very seriously any allegation of poor practice and has started an immediate investigation into the matters raised by the Dispatches programme.  


We do not believe that these allegations represent a real picture of nursing care at Ealing Hospital, whose excellent nurses provide a highly professional service.   We are sure that Ms Ndebele saw many examples of the best clinical practice while she was at the Trust.


Before being contacted by Channel 4, the Trust and its contractor initiated a major monitoring programme to check the work of cleaning staff on a daily basis, rigorously examining all areas.   This has already led to a systematic and measurable improvement in cleaning standards. Our MRSA figures continue to fall."

The Staff Side Committee representing union members at the hospital say,

"The Staff Side Committee does not support what they consider as being trial by television...

They are totally opposed to this kind of programme and undercover reporters using hidden cameras which can only give a one sided edited view."

They added: "The Staff Side considered the programme did not portray the true workings at Ealing Hospital and view their members as extremely professional and dedicated in the work they undertake. "

Ealing Hospital NHS Trust currently has a one star weighting by the Commission for Health Improvement.

February 7, 2005