Royal Stoke officially among cleanest hospitals in UK

Royal Stoke University Hospital, where Jane had her operation
Royal Stoke University Hospital -Credit:Stoke Sentinel

Staffordshire's main hospital is one of the cleanest in the country, inspectors have found. University Hospital of North Midlands achieved a 99.98 per cent score for cleaning following its latest PLACE inspection, putting it in the top six per cent of 1,069 assessments nationally.

PLACE - Patient Led Assessments of the Care Environment - are voluntary inspections which look at the non-clinical aspects of healthcare settings, such as food, maintenance and cleaning. The assessments are carried out by teams made up of staff and at least two members of the public, known as patient assessors.

Inspections cover various compulsory areas, but the patient assessors, who must make up at least half of each team, decide which non-compulsory elements are also assessed. Following its inspection in November, UHNM achieved above average scores across all eight categories, including 99.85 per cent for condition and maintenance, 95.43 per cent for food and 92.67 per cent for disability.

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The Royal Stoke and County Hospital sites were assessed separately, with the latter achieving higher scores in most categories, including 100 per cent for cleaning. Lorraine Whitehead, director of estates, facilities and PFI, presented the PLACE results to the UHNM trust board, saying they were down to the hard work of staff.

She said: "It's a very positive set of PLACE results - we're above the national average across all the areas in which we're assessed, and in the top six per cent nationally for cleaning. The results are testament to the hard work of our non-clinical workforce, but also the successful collaboration with our infection prevention team, the dietetics team - food is a big component of PLACE - clinical colleagues, and our PFI partners.

"I'd just like to thank everyone involved. This is about our general environment, and the first impressions of our general environment. It's not just about cleaning or food, it's about housekeeping and people taking pride in the areas in which they work."

Board members welcomed the results, although some questioned how the high score for cleaning had been achieved when the trust's compliance with infection prevention standards indicated that more work needed to be done in relation to cleanliness.

UHNM is currently only partially compliant in seven out of 10 areas relating to maintaining a 'clean and appropriate environment' that 'facilitates the prevention and control of infections'. The trust is fully compliant in the other three areas.

The board was told that the infection prevention standards covered more than just the cleanliness of buildings, and included 'challenging' standards in areas such as waste, linen and ventilation, and that progress was being made on most of these.

Trust chair David Wakefield said he was 'delighted' with the PLACE scores, but suggested that UHNM ought to be doing well considering its facilities are relatively modern compared to other trusts, and had seen plenty of recent investment.

He said: "We are a modern trust with a modern environment, and this is a voluntary system. So trusts which have a terrible environment and which haven't had the investment we have had may not choose to be inspected, therefore we're not seeing the best and the worst here. What I'm saying is that there's no point comparing ourselves to trusts that haven't had any investment for 50 years."

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