PATIENTS at Scarborough Hospital may have been served contaminated food on plates that had not been properly cleaned, the Evening News can reveal.
A series of food hygiene concerns were discovered in the kitchen of Scarborough Hospital’s catering department in a recent inspection by environmental health officers.
It was found that dishes on which food was served to patients were not being cleaned at high enough temperatures and that raw meat was left in areas where it was at risk of contaminating other foods.
It was also discovered that buckets of boiled eggs and containers of raw meat were being stored on the floor of the kitchen’s larder and walk-in freezer, posing another risk of contamination.
The kitchen was found in such a bad state of repair that it proved impossible to effectively disinfect and clean certain areas.
A Hygiene Improvement Notice has now been issued to Scarborough NHS Trust demanding that the issue of the structural deficiencies of the kitchen are put right.
The structural issues have been ongoing for at least three years.
Jill McWilliams, the environmental health officer who carried out the inspection, said in her report: “A major concern is the dishwasher. The main wash temperature was only 48 degrees, the target should be 65.
“It is likely that all equipment which is washed in the dishwasher is not being effectively cleaned or disinfected. Urgent action is required.
“The skirtings and coverings throughout the kitchen are in a poor state of repair and are crumbling off the walls. The resin floor throughout the kitchen is in a poor state of repair and cannot effectively be cleaned and disinfected.”
Miss McWilliams was so concerned by the dishwasher that she returned to the hospital a week after the initial inspection, which took place on November 23 last year.
Then, she found that a new part had been fitted to the dishwasher and temperatures were reaching 60 degrees although a full service of the machine identified that another part was required.
The hospital trust have until May to comply with the Hygiene Improvement Notice. They will be committing an offence if they fail to meet its requirements.
Another issue highlighted was the practice of preparing hot food hours before it is served.
Miss McWilliams added: “I noted for example gravy had been cooked by 6.25am for the lunch service, and a large pot of beef curry was left to stand for approximately 45 minutes before being reheated.
“It would be preferable not to prepare this dish so far in advance and to serve it straight after cooking.”
The report has been made public after a Freedom of Information request was submitted to Scarborough Council.
A further inspection will take place on May 31, when the trust’s compliance with the Hygiene Improvement Notice and steps they have taken to address other the issues raised will be examined.
James Hayward, director of facilities at Scarborough NHS Trust, said: “We would like to reassure patients and staff that their safety is our top priority and we have already acted on many of the recommendations outlined in the report.
“This was a routine inspection by the council. Following this visit, many of the supporting recommendations have since been completed. An action plan has also been agreed, to undertake the required repairs to the kitchen floor and skirting boards, and will be completed ahead of the May 31 deadline.
“We are committed to ensuring that our food safety is the highest standard which our patients quite rightly should expect.”