A searing indictment of the cleanliness of hospital kitchens is revealed today in research showing that almost half are plagued by vermin, risk infections by storing food incorrectly or employ staff with poor personal hygiene.
Official inspection reports reveal that breaches of food hygiene laws include infestations of mice and cockroaches, kitchen staff not washing their hands, food being kept at the wrong temperature and remnants of meals becoming stuck in equipment.
Other hazardous incidents included ice cream and prawns being stored together in fridges and freezers, orange juice kept next to chemicals and patients’ meal trays being used to transport contaminated material from the wards.
The reality of the conditions in which hospital food is prepared is laid bare in a series of official hygiene examinations carried out by environmental health officers, which have been passed to The Observer.
Of 377 National Health Service and private hospitals surveyed in England, 173 – 46 per cent – were found to have poor cleanliness in their kitchens, or canteens or cafes used by staff, patients and visitors. Nine of the 377 were private hospitals, of which six were found to have at least one area of concern. Eleven of the 173 had experienced a vermin or pest problem, 57 employed catering staff who displayed inadequate personal hygiene and 18 were found to stock out-of-date food. Sixty-eight did not meet the legal minimum standard for food storage and 66 were storing food at the wrong temperature, which can stimulate the growth of bacteria.
This reminds me of an article I read several years ago about Madonna. She was pregnant with her second child, I think, and was living in England. She said that she had no intention of giving birth in the UK because the hospitals were “old and Victorian.” After a quick Google search, I found it. Here it is:
She described UK hospitals as “old and Victorian” and said she disliked the thought of the complications caused by giving birth in a foreign country.
“I like efficiency,” she said.
When asked about having the child in the UK, she said: “Come on now, have you been to hospitals in England?”
But Royal College of Nursing Midwifery adviser Vicki Allanach was quick to defend the NHS.
She said UK hospitals needed to be brought up to the best possible standards for every woman.
“There is now a renewed focus on the essentials of care – privacy, dignity and hygiene – which should start to make a real difference to patients’ experiences,” she said.
She added: “The important thing to remember is that in the UK everyone has access to health care services.”
Patients in the US must pay for their treatment.
So, the UK’s free but filthy hospital hygiene is available to all citizens. I’m sure Britons find that very comforting. Will the NHS publish which hospitals have the horrible hygiene so people can choose to steer clear of them, or are people assigned to particular hospitals based upon where they live, just like government run schools here in the US, and are stuck? I have a feeling it’s the latter.