Hospital chiefs were put on the spot at a meeting yesterday (Monday) over reports of people seen breaking coronavirus guidelines.
The health overview and scrutiny committee heard that enforcing infection control at Bedford Hospital is “everyone’s responsibility” and that bosses can’t be everywhere at once.
Cllr Kay Burley (Lab, Kempston Central & East) said: “I’m talking about an area that I visited last week, which I was not very happy about at all.
“It wasn’t a ward, and I didn’t see anybody walking about looking, watching, organising or anything.
“I wonder whether that’s acceptable for infection control.”
Cllr Burley said she was at the CT area of the hospital last week and said she was “very unhappy about the social distancing, or the lack of it, with people sitting next to each other.
“An elderly lady in a wheelchair from a care home removed her mask because she was feeling unwell.
“Nobody was paying any attention at all to where anybody was sitting.
“I thought that was really unacceptable in a hospital to have that lack of social distancing although I accept it is a difficult area.”
Committee chairman Cllr Graeme Coombes (Cons, Wilshamstead) said there “appeared to be a mixed picture at the hospital.”
He said he had a good experience with a blood test at Gilbert Hitchcock House but other councillors had not.
Liz Lees, the chief nurse at Bedfordshire Hospitals Foundation Trust said they have a specialist team who get involved in every aspect of the hospital.
“If there is a problem in a particular area they will focus their time and efforts,” she said.
Other clinical staff have responsibility for wards and other services, such as in outpatients, she added, saying she would “pick up” Cllr Burley’s issue.
“That hasn’t come on my radar, so thank you for raising it,” she said.
Paul Tisi, the medical director at the trust added, “It is every member of staff’s responsibility to follow the guidance. We expect all members of staff to challenge that.
“As an executive team we spend a lot of time walking round the hospital putting that challenge in.
“Clearly it’s a large building and you cannot be in all places at all times.”
Mr Tisi added that it was not possible to stop patients from walking around “unless they are under the mental health act.”
He added that he thinks some of the public are confused about the rules in the hospital, which are for two metre physical distancing, but people think it is 1 metre plus a mask.
By David Tooley
Local Democracy Reporter