Saturday 22 October 2016

Infants at risk of infection at Holles Street, says report

National Maternity Hospital
National Maternity Hospital

Babies are at risk of infection at Holles Street Maternity Hospital due to overcrowding and very poor hygiene, health inspectors have found.

The master of the National Maternity Hospital, Dr Rhona Mahony, admitted yesterday that the busiest maternity facility in the country, with 9,000 births a year, is "not fit for purpose".

She was responding to a damning report by inspectors who warned that vulnerable newborns in the intensive care unit are in danger of infection.


Inspectors from the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa), who made an unannounced visit to Holles Street in October, found patient welfare was at risk.

The inspection sparked an immediate letter to Dr Mahony from Hiqa.

The inspectorate warned that overcrowding in the neonatal intensive care unit caused risk of infection.

The newly-opened unit was designed to accommodate 36 babies, but on the day of the inspection 46 babies were there.

One cot was near a sink which could pose a risk of a water-borne infection.

The quality of cleaning in the delivery ward was insufficient. Dust control measures were not up to standard and splashes of blood were present on beds, walls and equipment.

Care and storage of medications given intravenously was not in line with best practice. Anaesthetic drugs drawn up in syringes and infusions were not properly labelled and stored hygienically in the delivery ward.

Inspectors found a patient bed was put in a lobby outside the mothers' delivery rooms in a storage area used for cleaning supplies.

A single mop head was used to clean up body fluid spillages in different rooms.


The inspectors acknowledged the hospital was built in the 19th Century and faces major infrastructural problems while also coping with a high number of births.

Dr Mahony told Hiqa that, because of the poor clinical surfaces and old and unsuitable infrastructure, it is unlikely that the hospital will achieve compliance with the high standards set by the patient safety body.

The Hiqa demand for deep cleaning would require access to each room for a number of hours and this was not possible because of the volume of activity, she added.

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