Hospital sorry after raw sewage spews over maternity unit

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

Craigavon Hospital has apologised after pipes filled with raw sewage spewed over various parts of the Maternity Unit three times in a month.

According to members of staff, stinking sewage burst out from a pipe in the ceiling of the antenatal clinic on February 17, spraying the reception area and splattering carpets and patient records.

The Portadown Times was told of raw faeces and sewage covering files, hanging off doors, patients’ charts and ‘bounty bags’ for expectant mums.

It is understood staff tried to clean the mess up but many of the items, including the carpet, had to be thrown out and a specialist cleaning firm was drafted in.

A few days later there was another incident of raw sewage leaking in the Maternity Unit and the stench was so bad a tea room had to be cordoned off.

Also last week a sewage pipe burst outside on the roof of the ante-natal unit and raw sewage spilled over the roof and came streaming down windows. On all occasions the stench was oppressive, one source told the ‘Times’.

Debbie Burns, Southern Trust interim director of acute services, said, “There have been some recent issues with blocked sewers at Craigavon Hospital, mainly caused by the flushing of inappropriate sanitary items such as wipes, nappies and J cloths down toilets in the hospital.

“I apologise to any patients and staff for any distress caused by sewage overflow at the hospital.

“I would like to stress that in these situations, specialist plumbers are called in immediately to fix the problem and a very thorough clean-up is carried out as quickly as possible by specialist cleaning contractors. Trust domestic teams also complete a full terminal clean of the areas affected.

“Infection control measures are also put in place to minimise any risk to patients and the safety of patients is our priority at all times. Contractors are also employed to check external drains on a weekly basis and remove any blockages. We are currently in the process of replacing pipe fittings in the hospital with new fittings (which are more effective). This will include the Maternity Unit.

“The main cause of these blockages is the flushing of inappropriate items, such as white wipes, nappies and J cloths, down toilets in the hospital.

“This is despite signage and other communications asking people using the hospital not to flush these items down toilets. I appeal to everyone using our hospitals to help us look after our facilities by using the bins provided.”