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East Kent Hospitals Trust admits health and safety failure as clinical waste is mixed up with linen at William Harvey in Ashford

Hospital bosses have admitted a “significant” health and safety failure after clinical waste was dumped in with dirty linen FORTY times and sent off to the laundry.

The worrying incidents occurred in just three months at hospital sites across east Kent, including Kent and Canterbury, the QEQM in Margate and Ashford’s William Harvey, and included items such as blooded bandages being mixed up with bedding.

It has been described as a breach of trust policy which put laundry staff at risk, with ward staff now being urged to stop the malpractice.

The used dressing Vicki found in her bed sheets
The used dressing Vicki found in her bed sheets

Bosses say it is difficult to identify where the contaminated linen has come from once it has left hospital sites and sent to the trust’s own in-house laundry operation, which is based at the William Harvey.

Recently, a patient revealed how she was given supposedly fresh sheets at the Kent & Canterbury Hospital only to find a used wound dressing among the linen.

Vicki Adams, of Black Griffin Lane, Canterbury, said: “It was absolutely stomach-turning. The dressing had some sort of bodily discharge on it, perhaps blood, perhaps faeces.

Vicki Adams in Kent and Canterbury Hospital
Vicki Adams in Kent and Canterbury Hospital

“When we complained they took it away straight away, but there was no apology.”

The malpractice was revealed in the latest edition of the hospital's newsletter, Trust News, which reported: “This is clearly not trust policy and poses significant health and safety risks to staff involved with laundry processing.

“It is difficult to pin down the wards and departments where this is happening as laundry is not traced beyond the hospital site.”

The hospital has apologised to Lena
The hospital has apologised to Lena

It urged staff to “disseminate the message as widely as possible” and asked wards and departments to ensure staff were aware that clinical waste must not be sent to the laundry.

In a statement, the hospital trust’s director of infection prevention and control, Sue Roberts, said: “As part of being open and transparent, we recently alerted staff to the mishandling of clinical waste, which we take very seriously.

"We did this to ensure that clinical waste is disposed of correctly. Our own laundry processes 6.5 million items a year and has very strict procedures to ensure that any clinical waste mistakenly sent to laundry is not included in clean linen sent back to wards."

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