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RCGP head condemns ‘dehumanising’ hospital rules

By Gareth Iacobucci

RCGP President Dr Iona Heath has condemned the ‘dehumanising' impact of regulations which stop hospital visitors from sitting on patients' beds and ban flowers from wards, which many hospitals have taken to try to reduce infections.

Writing in her column in the BMJ, Dr Heath - voted third in Pulse's most influential GP poll last week – called the current rules ‘demeaning' and ‘joyless'.

Her comments came as a Care Quality Commission report showed that a quarter of NHS trusts are failing to meet hygiene standards for protecting patients against hospital bugs.

Of the 167 trusts investigated by the regulator, 42 were found to be in 'breach' of registration requirements for failing to meet standards.

Among the deficiencies uncovered were blood-spattered walls, mouldy surgical instruments, and bloodstains in some ambulances.

Nigel Ellis, the CQC's head of national inspection, said: ‘Good infection control takes constant vigilance – and meeting that every day, for every patient, is an ongoing challenge for the NHS.

‘We have found evidence of a direct risk to patients and have intervened using our new enforcement powers to ensure swift improvements were made.'

Dr Iona Heath