One of the biggest hospitals in the southeast has been severely criticised for lack of staff hand hygiene and cleanliness.

South Tipperary General Hospital in Clonmel caters for a catchment area of up to 130,000 people.

Set up seven years ago as an acute general hospital, the 193-bed facility has a catchment area of south Tipperary, west Waterford and part of north Tipperary.

The Health Information and Quality Authority carried out an unannounced inspection last month, checking the Intensive Care Unit, the Coronary Care Unit and Medical One.

Hand hygiene compliance on the day was low at only 39%, but the inspectors admit this was based on a low sample size.

Equipment associated with blood monitoring was an issue in the ICU, where blood stains were visible on a blood gas machine.

In Medical One, red stains were visible on a mattress cover and a pillow.

The report also states other patient equipment such as thermometer probes, blood pressure cuffs, a commode and glucometer holders were unclean in the Coronary Care Unit.

Unacceptable levels of dust were present on floor edges in the unit, as well as on corners, on skirting boards, bed frames and high surfaces such as curtain rails.

Overall, the Intensive Care Unit was clean at the time of the inspection and a strong awareness of infection prevention and control standards was evident in the unit.

The Health Service Executive welcomed the publication of the report.

It noted it shows compliance with many of its guidelines, describes the ICU and other clinical areas overall as clean and found that staff displayed a strong awareness of required infection prevention and control standards.

Hospital general manager Grace Rothwell added that a quality improvement plan has been put in place following the investigation.

Legionella samples present at Mullingar hospital

Elsewhere, a HIQA report into the Midlands Regional Hospital Mullingar found that Legionella samples were present in some of the water supply points but that the hospital had procedures in place to effectively manage the risk.

Recent tests showed the water supply to the hospital to be clear.

The report found that water samples had tested positive for Legionella pneumophila at a significant number of water outlets on 24 May 2014.

However, the authority was satisfied the hospital had procedures in place to effectively manage the risk. 

A full re-testing of water samples had tested negative for Legionella pneumophila on 25-26 June 2014.

The report also found that hand hygiene compliance at the hospital is low.

According to Health Protection Surveillance Centre audits, in October 2013 the hospital scored 71.4%, with only 53.3% compliance on Medical Ward 3.

76.9% of clinical staff in hospital had attended mandatory hand hygiene training in the last two years.

The report also found the position of Infection Prevention and Control Nurse had been vacant since March 2014.