Mail exposes health hazards in Birmingham

A reporter who went undercover as a cleaner at a Birmingham hospital revealed a catalogue of hygiene breaches that could potentially spread the MRSA superbug, writes Dominic Ponsford.

Following the exposé in Birmingham’s Evening Mail, the Heartlands Hospital declined to comment on reporter Andy Shipley’s story.

Instead, chief executive Mark Goldman went on local radio to say the report could not be trusted because Shipley had used subterfuge.

Shipley applied for a job with NHS contractors Rentokil Initial after it was revealed that Heartlands was one of the worst hospitals in the country for superbug patient deaths.

He revealed insect infestation, bins filled with blood-soaked plaster casts, bandages left to fester overnight and a secret memo revealing that surgical tools contaminated from previous operations were returned to operating theatres.

Mail editor Roger Borrell said: “We didn’t want to sensationalise this issue or frighten our readers but we did feel it required some old-fashioned investigative journalism to look behind the scenes.

“It is a shame that the medical establishment went into denial rather than take on board our findings and work out ways of improving standards.

Andy did a great job and proved that there was significant undermanning in many key departments.

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