BORDERS General Hospital staff have been praised by health inspectors for the significant progress made to ensure the facility is clean and that there is better communication between staff following a surprise visit in December.
The Healthcare Environment Inspectorate (HEI) this week issued a report following its unannounced visit to the BGH on December 14.
HEI Chief Inspector Susan Brimelow said she was very pleased to see what she termed “significant progress” at the region’s main hospital since a four-strong inspection team paid a visit in March last year and made 13 requirements and four recommendations for improvement.
A requirement sets out what an NHS board must do to comply with health service standards – standards which it says every hospital patient has a right to expect. A requirement means a hospital has not met the standards set out and HEI is concerned about the impact on patients.
A recommendation relates to national guidance and best practice which a hospital is advised to follow to improve standards of care.
Ms Brimelow said the visit by her inspectors found that the 318-bed BGH was clean and that there was good communication between staff at all levels.
“As a result of previous inspections, executive and hospital management walk-rounds and an NHS Borders internal inspection team have been introduced,” she stated.
“There are still some areas that require improvement, including more effective schedules for cleaning patient equipment and better implementation of NHS Borders policy for checking mattresses.
“However in general, this report illustrates good progress by NHS Borders and is a great example of how inspection can help drive improvements in the care patients receive.”
The three requirements NHS Borders must meet include ensuring all staff are aware of and implement the NHS Borders’ mattress auditing policy.
Hospital bosses must also develop and implement effective cleaning schedules for patient equipment in line with national guidance and they must also review their procedure for the dissemination of information to both patients and visitors on infection prevention and control and healthcare-associated infections.
Inspectors have also made recommendations that NHS Borders puts a system in place to demonstrate that actions from environmental audits are being completed and followed up to ensure that improvements have been made and, secondly, that it undertakes a risk assessment of the clinical preparation areas in the wards and departments in the BGH.
This is to ensure that robust controls are in place to mitigate any additional hazards which may be posed by the arrangement of the physical environment and ensure that all areas are cleaned in accordance with national NHS standards, after any refurbishment work, and before being handed back to the senior charge nurse.
Calum Campbell, Chief Executive of NHS Borders, said the organisation welcomed the report and that, overall, the inspection team had found evidence that NHS Borders has worked hard to improve its compliance with NHS standards to protect, patients, staff and visitors.
“Since previous HEI reports issued last year, it is clear that outstanding progress has been made within the BGH and we are continuing to improve our policies and practices,” commented Mr Campbell.
“There has also been significant reduction in the number of recommendations made in this latest report which is a testament to the tremendous effort staff have put in to making important improvements to the healthcare environment of our patients.
“Patient safety is our number one priority and we have shown we are committed to providing high standards of care, cleanliness and hygiene to minimise the risk of healthcare associated infection.
“We will continue to work on our cleaning schedules, full implementation of our mattress auditing policy and our processes for sharing HAI (Healthcare Associated Infection) information with patients and visitors.
“Already we have an action plan in place to ensure we implement the recommendations set out in the report and I am confident this will ensure sustained improvements to our service.”
Areas in the BGH that were inspected included the intensive therapy unit, renal dialysis unit, special care baby unit (SCBU), ward 7 (general surgery), ward 11 (stroke, palliative care, GP acute), ward 12 (general medicine), ward 15 (medical paediatrics), ward 16 (gynaecology) and ward 17 (obstetrics).