Poor hygiene at Wexford Hospital
Hygiene standards at Wexford General Hospital are among the worst in the country, a report has found.
Only around half (52%) of nurses and healthcare assistants were trained in cleaning their hands to prevent the spread of infections, the health watchdog has found.
Furthermore, the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) said there was no hand hygiene training at all at the hospital recently because of a lack of resources.
"The performance of Wexford General Hospital in national hand hygiene audits is considerably lower than the targets set by the Health Service Executive (HSE) each year, and also considerably lower than the overall compliance across all hospitals who participate in the audits.
The watchdog said hospital chiefs "worryingly" did not report the results of their own hygiene tests as part of a national audit expected last October.
An effective hand cleaning regime is internationally recognised as the most important step to preventing the spread of infections in hospitals, Hiqa said.
During inspections of wards on the hospital, it found the St Josephs Ward was "generally unclean".
A follow up inspection this year showed some improvement, however further improvements were needed in the general cleanliness of the ward, which was sub-standard, it was found.
St Mary's Ward was found to be generally clean.
Inspections were carried out in February last year, with follow-ups in March and April this year.
In March, inspectors said they found specific issues which posed a "high risk" to the health and welfare of patients.
The HSE has set a national benchmark of 90% compliance with hand hygiene standards in hospitals.
Last year, Wexford General Hospital scored less than 72%.
But Hiqa said it was concerned the hospital did not file results for the survey in October, unlike the majority of hospitals around the country.
The watchdog has notified HSE chiefs about its concerns.
Bosses at Wexford General Hospital said it is a big, busy hospital and it has a plan already in place to deal with the shortcomings flagged up in the report.
Dr Colm Quigley, clinical director at the hospital, said staff were determined to improve conditions.
"Wexford General Hospital acknowledge and accept the report of the Hiqa Inspectors on St. Joseph's and St. Mary's Wards," he said.
"This matter is being addressed by our board of management and effective and immediate steps have been taken to address the deficits identified."
Dr Quigley said a newly opened emergency department and concourse at the hospital would help improve the environment for patients and staff.