NURSES and other staff at the region's four community hospitals have been praised for coming clean.

But NHS Borders still suffered that sinking feeling after being told to sort out the washbasins at Hay Lodge Community Hospital in Peebles, as well as carry out repairs to its buildings.

Inspectors from Healthcare Improvement Scotland descended on Hay Lodge, Hawick Community Hospital, Kelso Community Hospital and Knoll Community Hospital in Duns earlier this year.

Between March 21 and 23 they interviewed patients and staff, as well as carrying out inspections of the facilities.

And this week they published their findings into the cleanliness and safety surrounding infection control at each of the hospitals.

Ian Smith, head of Quality of Care at Healthcare Improvement Scotland, told us: “Staff demonstrated good compliance with mandatory infection prevention and control training at the four community hospitals we inspected.

"However, to improve care, NHS Borders must ensure the fabric of the buildings is maintained to enable effective cleaning.”

The 14-page report was full of praise for infection control measures being implemented at all four community hospitals.

Inspectors complimented the systems in place and staff members' observance of standards.

The report states: "In all sites inspected, staff had a good level of knowledge and understanding of the various standard infection control precautions such as the safe management of blood and body fluid spillages.

"Staff were able to describe how to use chlorine-releasing disinfectant and detergent solution for the management of blood spillages, or were aware where they could find the information to do so.

"We saw good staff compliance with the use of personal protective equipment, such as aprons and gloves, and we saw staff performing hand hygiene at the appropriate times.

"Across all sites inspected, all 45 patients, relatives and carers who completed our questionnaire said that staff always clean their hands."

Although the cleanliness of all four community hospitals was praised, inspectors did highlight problems with the maintenance of the buildings.

And they found damaged doors and walls which prevented complete cleaning.

NHS Borders has now been ordered to 'ensure the built environment is maintained to allow effective cleaning'.

The report stated: "In all four hospitals inspected, we saw issues with the fabric of the building.

"This included scrapes in walls, damage to the door and door frames resulting in exposed wood.

"This meant that although surfaces could be cleaned they could not be effectively cleaned.

"We noted that all the issues had been reported to the estates team."

A second requirement to come from the inspection concerned wash basins at Hay Lodge.

Inspectors found that the number of available sinks at the Peebles hospital - which is one for every six beds - is below national guidelines.

And several of the wash hand basins were not compliant with required standards.

Since the draft of the findings were sent to NHS Borders, staff at all four hospitals have 'been reminded of how to report any issues to their Estates & Facilities colleagues'.

Nicky Berry, director of Nursing Midwifery and Acute Services with NHS Borders, is delighted with the infection control standards which were highlighted in the report.

She said: “I would like to take this opportunity to thank our staff who work incredibly hard on a daily basis to provide high quality care for our patients.

"This report is testament to all the hard work and effort that they put in.”

Cabinet Secretary for Health Jeane Freeman is pleased NHS Borders is already making progress on the identified problem areas.

She said: “We are pleased that inspectors of Hawick Community Hospital, Hay Lodge Community Hospital, Kelso Community Hospital and Knoll Community Hospital found that infection control education was good and that there was good staff compliance with standard infection control precautions.

“However, inspectors highlighted areas that require improvement and I am pleased to see from the published action plan that NHS Borders has already taken action and put processes in place to address the issues identified during the inspection.

“Patients and the public deserve to have complete confidence in the cleanliness of Scottish hospitals and the quality of NHS services – that is why we have introduced these inspections as one of a range of measures to reduce healthcare associated infections.

“I have made clear my expectation that all health boards must make cleanliness and infection prevention and control a priority.”