Clean bill of health in hospital E.coli scare

Craigavon Area Hospital. INLM02-110gc
Craigavon Area Hospital. INLM02-110gc

No further traces of E.coli 0157 have been found in the kitchen at Craigavon Area Hospital, it was confirmed on Wednesday.

Tests have been ongoing since the bacteria was discovered last week during the hospital’s own testing procedure.

A spokesperson for the Southern Health and Social Care Trust said it was working towards resuming normal service.

A hot food only menu has been provided for the past week - as cooking eliminates the risk of bacteria - but the salad and sandwich bars were closed.

She added, “A range of strict food safety measures have been in place whilst we investigated this issue. We have been working closely with the relevant agencies and have taken all necessary precautions.

“We once again would like to apologise for any inconvenience these temporary arrangements have caused and thank staff, patients and visitors for their support and co-operation during this time.”

Meanwhile, a member of the domestic staff at Craigavon Area Hospital said she and her colleagues were “terrified” of contracting the bacteria, after being asked to clean the kitchen.

The domestic assistant, who contacted the Portadown Times, said staff were alerted to the situation last Tuesday, when they were called in to a meeting.

She said all domestic staff had been asked to hand in their uniforms for swab tests and were also asked to submit a stool sample.

She criticised the hospital for the lack of information. “The staff are not happy. We are terrified we are going to catch it,” she said.

However, a trust spokesperson said any cleaning is conducted under stringent guidelines and that staff are issued with all the necessary protective clothing.

E.coli is most commonly found in undercooked meats, unpasteurized milk and juice, soft cheeses and raw fruits and vegetables (such as sprouts).

According to the Food Standards Agency, E.coli can easily spread to ready-to-eat foods, such as salads and cooked foods, through direct contact with raw foods or indirectly by staff, equipment, contaminated surfaces or cleaning materials.

Advice on avoiding cross-contamination includes separating raw and ready to eat foods; effective cleaning and disinfection; good personal hygiene, including washing hands thoroughly and handling food hygienically.

The Health Protection Agency said E.coli may result in illnesses ranging from mild diarrhoea to very severe inflammation of the gut, and complications such as kidney failure and anaemia.