AN INFESTATION of ants caused the closure of an emergency care ward at Moray’s flagship hospital, the health authority has confirmed.
Pest controllers were called to the 185-bed Dr Gray’s Hospital, in Elgin, after the insects were found crawling over the lower walls and floor of the short-stay observation ward.
An outraged visitor, whose relative was under the hospital’s care at the time, told ‘The Northern Scot’ that he witnessed an endless stream of the insects scurrying from one side of the five-bed unit to the other.
"The more I thought about it, the more appalled I was, because it is supposed to be an absolutely clean environment," said the man, who asked not to be named.
NHS Grampian confirmed that the ward was closed down for four hours last Friday while experts worked to rid it of the unwanted visitors.
However, the man claimed that an army of ants remained in the ward at the start of the week.
"I went to move a chair, and a box fell down from behind it – one of those wee pest control boxes for mice. I thought to myself, ‘Oh no, there is something wrong here’. I’ve heard scare stories, but I didn’t think it was that bad.
"But then the ants came into view. Once I noticed them, you could see them all over the place – scurrying all over the floor. It is supposed to be a hospital," he said.
With the A&E department situated nearby, he raised fears over hygiene and the spread of disease. "I was absolutely shocked; I couldn’t stop thinking about it all that night. The ward is next door to the accident and emergency rooms," he added.
"They do blood transfusions and all sorts in there. They go on about MRSA and C.diff, and they have all the posters up about keeping clean and washing your hands.
"Fair enough, there might have been an outbreak, but you would expect it to have been sorted as soon as possible," he said.
An NHS spokeswoman said that a team of specialists was called in last Friday when the ants appeared.
"The ward was closed for a period of four hours to allow the pest control company to come in and resolve the problem, which they did, and the ward was reopened the same day," she said.For more on this story, see this week's 'Northern Scot'