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PATIENT SAFETY AND REMOVAL OF PIGEONS FROM DARLINGTON MEMORIAL HOSPITAL

There have been a number of queries received by the Trust in relation to the recently installed pigeon netting to the courtyards at Darlington Memorial Hospital.

The welfare and safety of our patients and the cleanliness of our hospitals are of fundamental importance to this Trust and the care we provide. 
 
This is being compromised by the continued presence of nesting and roosting pigeons on and around the hospital buildings.
 
There is a public health risk associated with pigeon guano (droppings) and the Trust is not prepared to jeopardise the health of our patients.  Cryptococcus is present in the droppings; when these dry out and the guano becomes aerosolised when disturbed, a systemic infection may occur if inhaled, particularly by immunocompromised patients. This can prove fatal. 
 
The control of pigeon guano in hospital premises is therefore particularly important in disease prevention. The courtyards where we are installing the nets front onto some of our wards and departments which house some of our most vulnerable patients.
 
Because of these risks, and because of the smell, staff have been unable to open windows during the summer.
 
This work has therefore been undertaken to improve the environmental and hygiene conditions for those wards and departments which front onto the courtyards in question.  The extent of the pigeon guano on window sills, roofs, ledges and air conditioning units and the relative inaccessibility  to regularly clean them was resulting in a most unattractive and unhealthy environment.
 
We have for the last 9 years tried to control this by installing 'bird points' (ie spikes) on the window sills and ledges.  Unfortunately this has not worked and therefore the installation of the netting is considered very much a last resort.
 
The Trust is working within the law and has appointed a specialist contractor , Rentokil, who are licensed to undertake this work. The RSPCA have visited the site on two occasions and are satisfied with the approach the Trust is taking.
 
It was not possible to completely clear the courtyard of all pigeons before the net was installed. However, humane traps which contain water and food, have been set to allow those remaining to be caught.  
 
Rentokil are visiting the site regularly to recover pigeons from the traps, and to remove any which have become caught in the netting.
 
Comments have also been received that a hawk has been put into the courtyards to kill those remaining pigeons  - this is untrue.
 
I hope this allays any concerns people may have had.
 

'I feel it is important to relay my experience back to let the staff know they are doing a brilliant job! I would like them to know I appreciated all they did for myself, my family and our beautiful baby girl.'

Patient, Labour Ward, Darlington Memorial Hospital