Pest control has been summoned to hospitals in Leeds 771 times over the past two and a half years to deal with a grim catalogue of vermin, the YEP has learned.
Among the beastly call-outs were an infestation of cockroaches discovered in an operating theatre, rats reported near a crèche and “hundreds” of flies in an antenatal unit.
Patient campaigners have called the findings “disgraceful” and raised concerns about the standard of cleaning at the hospitals.
The figures - obtained by the YEP under the Freedom of Information Act - date from the beginning of 2011 to last month and also include 203 reports of ants, 155 of silverfish and two of bedbugs.
Contractors reported removing a cockroach from a children’s theatre at Leeds General Infirmary in March 2011. A few days later they were called again to a theatre in the building and reported: “Cockroaches trapped and removed from boxes. Eggs found and removed, as well as 10-15 cockroaches.”
Dead cockroaches were also removed from a light fitting in the building’s recovery room.
Pest control was called to outside the Roseville Road crèche behind St James’ Hospital in July 2012 and reported the “yard area full of rotting waste, with rats breeding”. The playground at LGI’s Clarendon Crèche had rats caught on all baits in July 2012 and a rat was reportedly seen “going under the main doors” on a ward at Seacroft Hospital in May 2011.
Drain flies were found coming through an air conditioning unit on a St James’ Hospital ward in January 2011 and its Gledhow wing had reports of a “leaking dishwasher spewing contents out behind work units. Units are rotten and flies are breeding in the fermenting mess”. In the hospital’s isolation unit contractors found “flies emanating from overflowing refuse bin in staff room”.
Among seven call-outs in nine months at LGI’s Clarendon antenatal unit, a “hundreds of dead flies from previous treatment” in a toilet were found.
Other discoveries include winged Argentine ants in the pharmacy at LGI, owl midges in cleaning cupboards at LGI’s A&E and sewage flies entering the Merville Building at St James’ Hospital.
Maureen Idle, of campaign group Leeds Hospital Alert, said: “It’s disgraceful. It’s important they are keeping these places clean. These things spread diseases. Obviously there are vulnerable people at risk there. I’m not having a go at cleaners, because it’s not always their fault and they get blamed for a lot.”
A Leeds Teaching Hospital spokesman said: “We have a zero tolerance attitude to pests on hospital sites so every incident is logged in detail and dealt with by our contractors as a matter of urgency.” He said it is “inevitable” their old and complex buildings - one of the country’s largest NHS estates - will have problems with pest control at times.
He said: “Staff on all our sites are vigilant for signs of pest infestation of all types, and the Trust has an established procedure when we identify a problem to deal with it rapidly and ensure patients and staff are not put at any risk.”
He added: “One of the particular issues in Leeds is the age of some of our buildings, making them more prone to attack by pests which can sometimes gain entry despite the best efforts of our cleaning and maintenance teams.”
Services have been moving out of older buildings - including the theatre where cockroaches were found - to more modern premises in recent years.
He said: “Parts of St James’s, Leeds General Infirmary and Seacroft Hospital date back over 100 years and are increasingly unsuitable for hospital use. Over recent years the Trust has been moving services into more modern premises, so many of the older buildings in the trust are no longer used for patient care, but can still be vulnerable to pests.
“A good example example is the oldest part of the Infirmary, where most patient services such as those undertaken in the old theatres have been moved out, and that facility was closed in October 2011. Operations are now undertaken in much newer parts of the Infirmary site such as the Jubilee and Clarendon Wings.”
Call-outs at Leeds hospitals: The number of times pest control were called between 2011 and last month:
• Rats: 36
• Mice: 24
• Ants: 203
• Cockroaches: 25
• Bed bugs: 2
• Biting insects, including fleas: 79
• Crickets: 5
• Pigeons: 101
• Red spider: 2
• Silverfish: 155