Rats and other vermin found at Kent hospitals, survey finds

Image caption A rat was discovered in the A&E resuscitation unit of the Medway Maritime Hospital in February

Vermin including rats, cockroaches and squirrels have been seen in wards and clinical areas in all four health trusts in Kent, the BBC has found.

In the last five years, Medway called out pest controllers 330 times, while East Kent had 169 call-outs. Both had more than 50 rat finds.

Dartford and Gravesham had 62 vermin incidents, while there were 69 in Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells.

The trusts told Radio Kent they had regular maintenance routines.

A rat found in the A&E resuscitation unit of the Medway Maritime Hospital in February, and cockroaches in the oncology unit at the Kent and Canterbury Hospital were two of the incidents highlighted by the Radio Kent survey.

It also found there had been problems with mice, squirrels, silverfish, ants, wasps and fleas in kitchen waste areas, wards and key clinical areas at hospitals across the county.

'Resistant to poison'

Joyce Robbins, from the watchdog Patient Concern, said the trusts that came out worst had the oldest buildings, which meant they should have been even more vigilant in tackling the problem.

Medway NHS Foundation Trust said the Medway Maritime Hospital was Kent's largest single-site hospital, and located next to the Great Lines Heritage Park which made it more susceptible to pests, but it had an "effective system" for reporting any sightings.

East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust said it had a monthly maintenance routine in all hospitals, which also provided a response service if required.

Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells said it had not had any rats for more than three and a half years, and only had seasonal problems now, such as wasps and ants.

Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust also said it had no recent reports of rats.

Dr Alan Buckle, a rodent expert at the University of Reading, said there was a strain of rodents living in the South East that were resistant to the commonly-used poisons used by hospitals.

He said the Health and Safety Executive had been in talks with the pest control industry on the effective use of alternative poisons.

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