At University Hospital in Coventry rats were living in the roof while St Bartholomew’s in Central London called in exterminators over rat droppings in one.


Infested hospitals called in pest control nearly 5,000 times last year to rid wards, ­canteens and even operating theatres of rats, mice, insects and birds.

At University Hospital in Coventry rats were living in the roof above a surgical room while St Bartholomew’s in Central London called in exterminators over rat droppings in one.

Consultant surgeons complained of being bitten by fleas in ­changing rooms at North Manchester General, reports the Sunday People.

While Southend Hospital had such a serious pigeon problem almost 800 birds had their necks broken to stop the spread of infection and disease.

Other shocking cases at the 121 NHS hospital trusts in England that replied to our Freedom of Information request included a cockroach infestation on a maternity ward and ants overrunning an intensive care unit.

Pest experts were called out 4,827 times in the financial year 2014-15, an average of 13 times a day, to deal with problems also including ants, ­cockroaches, fleas, wasps, squirrels, foxes, flies and bed bugs.

Cockroaches were a problem on the maternity wards at Royal Oldham Hospital in Greater Manchester and Kingston Hospital in Surrey while Poole Hospital in Dorset had fleas in the antenatal clinic.


Kingston Hospital
Kingston Hospital

At East Surrey Hospital, Redhill, there were ants in the intensive care unit and live mites fell on to a desk from a pigeon nest above an office.

And at St George’s Hospital Trust in South London a deep-clean was needed to get rid of bed bugs in the outpatient unit.

A fly infestation in the mortuary at the Southport and Formby General on Merseyside was traced to a disused sink where stagnant water had been left for about a year.

East Surrey Hospital, Canada Avenue, Redhill

East Surrey Hospital, Canada Avenue, Redhill.


In 2010 the Department of Health launched a £68million Clean Hospitals initiative, but campaigners fear ­standards have only got worse.

Government body NICE admits 800 patients a day catch infections on NHS wards due to dirty equipment and poor staff hygiene. This causes 5,000 deaths a year and contributes to 15,000 more.

At Coventry’s University Hospital a spokesman said of the rats above an operating theatre: “We take the ­cleanliness of our hospitals extremely seriou­sly and undertake regular monitoring by pest-control specialists.

“Unfortunately, as with any large buildings, occasionally there are times when it has been necessary to call in pest control.

“We are satisfied that patient safety was not compromised by this incident,” he added.

Bart’s said the theatre where rat droppings were found had a full ­deep-clean afterwards, and a sterile environment was always ­ensured ­before surgery.

St Bartholomew's Hospital

St Bartholomew’s Hospital with people sitting and passing West Smithfields City of London England UK. ©Alamy.


Jan China of Southend Hospital said feral pigeons were a historic problem on the site. “Dispatch is undertaken by the pest control company by neck-breaking,” she added.

“The carcasses are frozen off site by Pest Control and provided to wildlife centres as food for birds of prey.”

Roger Goss, co-director of ­campaign group Patient Concern, says hospital bosses need to be hit by tough ­penalties if cleanliness ­standards are not kept up to scratch.

He added: “The old age of premises sometimes offered as an excuse is no excuse. It simply means devoting more money and staff to cleaning duties.

“If chief executives and boards of directors won’t do that, they need to be fined or fired.”


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