Your Right To Know: Pests infesting Sheffield hospitals revealed

Rats: Bait boxes laid down.
Rats: Bait boxes laid down.
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RATS, mice and cockroaches are among the pests which have infested hospitals in Sheffield in the past year.

Control officers have been called out to a total of 146 sightings of bugs and animals in and outside the Northern General, Weston Park, Royal Hallamshire and Jessop Wing hospitals since July last year.

Data obtained through The Star’s Your Right to Know campaign shows that doctors, nurses and non-clinical staff have reported everything from creepy crawlies to dead pigeons.

The campaign aims to shine a spotlight on the hidden facts and figures that affect readers’ everyday lives.

In December last year, a dead rat was found in the psychiatric outpatients’ unit at Northern General, while bait boxes were also placed in the immunology department after a mouse was spotted.

A male German cockroach was spotted by a member of staff at Weston Park Hospital last November.

The most common problem for all sites was ant infestations, which have hit the kitchen, chest clinic, medical wards and the palliative care unit at the Northern General this year.

The problem affects hospitals across the UK and Europe and was highlighted by academics this year.

Other call-outs included one to a report of maggots at the Royal Hallamshire - which, after an inspection, was discovered to be rice. Poor domestic house-keeping routines were blamed for the incident.

Similarly, a lack of regular bin collections in the hospital led to a fly infestation.

Phil Brennan, director of estates at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We have a rigorous and proactive approach to pest control and as a result we have far fewer incidents than other UK groups of hospitals. On average we have 40 reports of pests a year at each site.

“No rats have been found in clinical areas and most incidents are minor and seasonal, such as wasps and ants. We undertake regular inspections and any problems are dealt with immediately by pest control specialists.”

The trust operates a pest control management policy in compliance with NHS guidelines. Each site has a nominated officer which looks into every reported incident and decides whether treatment is required.

Pest control is carried out by contract with an external company and is worth £14,000 a year, but additional costs are incurred by the hospital if treatment is required.