As I’ve said before, we have a few vampire bats round here, but they're the phlebotomists (or the brides of Dracula as they're known) who turn up at your bedside to gouge craters out of your arm as they harvest blood for testing. A couple of them vaporised in my room yesterday and almost started fighting over me. They both had hold of an arm each… but that's a story for another day!
Let’s return to the bats. In the course of a year, Tayside Health Authority has squandered more than £11,000 trying to rid its hospitals of these sinister flying rodents. It must have been very scary for the patients sharing the wards with the bats; just imagine the mental scarring caused by one of those flapping up your nightdress or slithering down your jim jams.
But it’s not just bats that the hospital has a spot of bother with. A whole menagerie of wildlife has taken up residence in Tayside’s hospitals. Pest controllers had to be called in to deal with infestations of mice, cockroaches and rats on no fewer than 462 separate occasions, .
Mice were also discovered in the kitchen and dining room of Stracathro Hospital as well as in the main kitchen of Ashludie Hospital in Monifieth. Now, I know mice aren’t all that fussy about their grub, but they’d have to be bloody desperate to get stuck into your average plate of hospital food. I mean, there are one or two dishes round here that could scare the shit out of penicillin; even mould and bacteria won’t go near them in case they catch something. I swear if there were a nuclear holocaust tomorrow, the two things left upright on this earth would be cockroaches and our chef’s spotted dick.
To compound Tayside's misery, rats were found living on a ward at Little Cairnie Hospital in Arbroath while other creepy crawlies on the loose included cockroaches, ants, flies, silverfish, beetles, wasps and hornets. As if that weren’t enough, cockroaches were also found feasting in the dining room of Sunnyside Hospital in Montrose, while maggots were spotted in a nearby corridor, making their way to the hospital’s kitchen; I imagine they were probably on their way to clock on for a shift. Meanwhile, in Perth's Royal Infirmary's kitchen, silverfish were discovered scuttling around the food preparation area. Amazing! And to think that some people say there’s isn't enough protein in NHS food!
However, for me, perhaps the best bit of the story is this particularly dry quote from Margaret Watt, chairwoman of the Scotland Patients Association: "This is totally unacceptable. We've got enough trouble with MRSA and Clostridium difficile without having foreign bodies running around. Patients are frightened enough to go into hospital without knowing there are rats and mice and cockroaches.”
In reply, Scotland's Public Health Minister, Shona Robison, insisted that NHS Tayside had 'robust' procedures in place to tackle infestations.