Pest control called to maternity ward after ants found
A busy maternity unit was forced to call in pest control after ants were discovered in a ward where new mothers were sleeping.
The maternity department at Galway University Hospitals has confirmed it was forced to bring a pest control company to the ward after it became aware of the problem.
The issue arose last month after the ants were spotted by patients and visitors. A spokesperson for the Health Service Executive (HSE) said it had taken immediate action. It stressed that no further sightings were reported in other wards in the hospital.
However, the chairman of the HSE West Regional Health Forum, Padraig Conneely, said the matter raised grave concerns over hygiene standards at the hospital. He now intends to raise the matter further with hospital officials to ensure that the issue was a one-off problem.
"It is so unbelievable that this could happen in this day and age, particularly at UHG [University Hospital Galway, part of Galway University Hospitals], which is considered a centre of excellence," he told the Sunday Independent.
A statement from the HSE said the hospital has a "proactive pest control programme in place as part of the ongoing maintenance and environmental hygiene management."
It added: "In the past month the services department at Galway University Hospitals received one call from the maternity department regarding an ant sighting.
"As per protocol, the pest control company contracted by the hospital were immediately contacted and the issue was addressed and there has been no further follow up required since."
"Pest control is treated very seriously and every effort is made to ensure the hospital premises are free from vermin and other pests and to ensure that measures are in place to control access points, particularly at ground-floor level and particularly during maintenance and construction projects.
"Any reported sightings of pests are immediately dealt with by a pest control company contracted by the hospital," the statement continued.
However, Mr Conneely, who is also mayor of Galway city, said he now wished to see a copy of the hospital's hygiene regime.
"Hygiene standards need to be at 100 per cent when you are dealing with mothers giving birth to babies. This would be of grave concern to any mother-to-be going into the hospital and we need to ensure this was an isolated incident. The public need to have confidence that this will not happen again.
"I will be raising this matter further and I would like to see the hygiene regime to ensure it's 100 per cent up to standard and there is no breakdown in it," he added.
The maternity unit in the hospital came under the spotlight last year after HIQA made a number of adverse findings about practices in place in the wake of the Savita Halappanavar tragedy.
That investigation uncovered a series of failures in the "management, governance and delivery of maternity services at UHG which were not consistent with best practice".
A number of recommendations are now being implemented by the hospital.