"Poor infection control at Peterborough District hospital - but better now?"

About: Peterborough District Hospital / General surgery

(as a relative),

My mother was visiting us in Peterborough and had to go into Peterborough District hospital and have a blood transfusion. The day she was due to come home she caught c difficile. Before this she was very independent and lived by herself with no services and no real problems with any of her organs. She got diarrhoea and had to stay in hospital. Four people on the ward developed c difficile and they all were put in the same 4 bedded ward. This was meant to be an isolation unit with barrier nursing, infection control and so on ; but the infection control was abysmal, and even though I spoke to the infection control nurses whilst I was there and they said that they trained people – and I know they do – the fact is that even the basic commonsense things were wrong. So for example, some of the people with diarrhoea were soiling the bed so there was a big bin to put things in with a fully functioning foot pedal. I used this bin whilst I was staying with my mother, but the nurses were actually using their hands to open the lid of the soiled bin. Really basic things – one of the patients was receiving injections so the nurses would come in with the injection tray all set up and they would put the tray on the lid of the soil bin. So I mean what to me was really basic stuff – sometimes the nurses would just leave soiled bedding on the floor. And they didn’t know what to tell patients relatives about what they should and shouldn’t do about infection control. They didn’t know for example that the alcohol hand wipe isn’t any good for c difficile. One would say put on gloves while another would say you don’t need to. It was just bad. I spoke to the Matron for the ward and she herself had to look on the internet to see what it said about infection control about c difficile. All sorts of things like that mainly around infection control. And the general care was pretty rubbish too. I took time off because I didn’t feel I could leave my mother in that hospital alone. What I witnessed through being there all the time just reinforced my feelings. In the end my mother died.

All this was in December 2005 and I think that things have improved since then because I was recently a patient in the same hospital and staff take much more care about infection control now. But from what I saw this was because staff are worried about getting into trouble, not because they know it’s the right thing to do. So there are 'clean hands' notices everywhere but I still heard staff saying ‘Oh I’d better not come in the kitchen with my apron on because I’ll get into trouble’ – not because they realised that they shouldn't go into the kitchen with an apron straight after dealing with a patient.

Thanks for the opportunity for telling my story – I feel better for doing it.

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