Western Isles Hospital has been making urgent improvements to the cleanliness and maintenance of patient equipment, based on an inspectorate report published today (Tuesday September 24th).

Healthcare Improvement Scotland made an unannounced visit to the hospital in mid-July, the first inspection since September 2015. No warning was given to staff or health board executives about the visit of the team on July 15th and 16th.

Inspectors visited medical wards 1 and 2, surgical ward, maternity, Erisort and the emergency department. Based on previous visits, they paid particular attention to infection control policies and staff education and to standards of decontamination.

They found good staff compliance and knowledge of standard infection control precautions and described the standard of domestic cleaning as good. Feedback from patients on cleanliness was also positive.

But recording protocols and the cleanliness and maintenance of patient equipment fell short of the required standards, leading to five requirements and two recommendations for improvement.

NHS Western Isles board chairman Ian Burgess and chief executive Gordon Jamieson signed off on an approved action plan to address the issues on September 10th. In it, infection control measures such as frequent running of lesser-used water taps and the recording of these precautions are planned.

Decontamination standards and policies over the cleaning of sanitary fittings and mattresses as well as improved recording of cleaning procedures are detailed in the inspection report, which concludes: “We expect NHS Western Isles to carry out the actions described in its improvement action plan to address the issues we raised during this inspection. We would like to thank NHS Western Isles and, in particular, all staff and patients at the Western Isles Hospital for their assistance during the inspection.”

NHS Western Isles had completed most of the actions proposed in the report by the end of August, including removing and replacing contaminated mattresses and changing the cleaning agent used on sanitary fittings.

The full report and action plan are available at http://www.healthcareimprovementscotland.org/our_work/inspecting_and_regulating_care/hei_western_isles_reports/western_isles_sep_19.aspx