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Barking, Havering And Redbridge Hospitals

Volume 403: debated on Monday 10 March 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Health what discussions his Department has had with the Barking, Havering and Redbridge Hospitals NHS Trust on (a) improving the level of cleanliness, (b) ensuring syringes, needles and other equipment are kept in a hygienic state, (c) the safe storage of needles and syringes in paediatric areas, (d) the need to keep refrigerators used to store drugs locked, (e) the proper storage of equipment and (f) the quality of food provided for patients at Oldchurch Hospital; and if he will make a statement. [99402]

Oldchurch hospital was inspected by a patient environment action team (PEAT) on 21 February 2002. Overall standards of both the environment and food were assessed as acceptable and the hospital has been awarded Amber status. A further inspection will be undertaken as part of the current PEAT assessment programme.Additionally, all hospitals are required to meet the national cleaning standards for the National Health Service, issued in 2001. These standards are currently being revised to include equipment frequently cleaned by nursing staff such as diagnostic equipment, trolleys and drip stands.It is the responsibility of individual trusts to ensure the safety of items such as needles, syringes and drugs and that they are stored in a safe and hygienic environment and in line with the Controls Assurance standards and related regulations. The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 lays a duty on employers to ensure the health and safety of their staff. Under this statute NHS employers are required to carry out a risk assessment in relation to the safe storage, use and disposal of all sharps and needles. Responsibility for ensuring compliance with the legislation lies with the Health and Safety Executive.