Dozens of wards up and down the country have been infested with the critters revealed in new information from a Freedom of Information (FOI) request.
Warnings including a call logged from the Royal Oldham Hospital laundry which read “Urgent – there are lots of cockroaches” show the shocking realities of the problem plaguing the NHS.
As many as 4,885 call-outs were made by NHS trusts – equivalent to around 13 a day – in a desperate attempt to purge the hospitals of the pests in the last year to March.
Maggots were also unearthed in the accident and emergency ward kitchen and a cockroach “infestation” was reported in the day surgery ward at ROH between April 2015 and March 2016.
Rodents were spotted scurrying in the maternity block and insects inhabited the operating theatres at Leicester General Hospital.
A woman was terrified when she went into a rarely-used bedroom and discovered wasps had made a giant nest
Cockroaches also plagued the fifth level of the Infirmary’s Windsor building where specialist medicine admissions unit and elderly patients wards are resident.
NHS trusts splashed out nearly £1.1million in the year to March 2016 – with Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Trust’s spending doubling from £67,425 to £132,210 between 2011/12 to 2015/16.
A Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust spokesman said: “We take all pest control matters very seriously and deal with them swiftly.
“As a large provider of health services in London, the importance of high standards of cleanliness means a robust approach to incidents and prevention is absolutely essential.”
But the true amount of the total NHS spending could be much higher as only 87 of the 150 trusts responded to the Freedom of Information request.
Costs have rocketed in five years as the figure soared from £646,857 in 2011/12 to £815,855 based on like-for-like data from 48 trusts.
Some refused to say how much they had spent citing private finance initiative (PFI) deals or claiming the information was “commercially sensitive”.
More than 300 incidents were logged at the University Hospitals of Leicester in 2015/16 which had tripled from 104 reports in 2011/12 where more than one million patients are treated each year and the sites are visited by one million visitors.
A loaf of bread contained a dead mouse
Darryn Kerr, director of estates and facilities at Leicester’s Hospitals, said: “Occasionally, we have unwelcome visitors (everything from bats to badgers) who have tried to take up residence in parts of our estate.
“We deal with these issues when they arise and they do not affect the quality of our patient care.”
The four hospitals run by Pennine Acute Hospitals trust in Greater Manchester saw a fall from 346 in 2011/12 to 302.
Health bosses argued the rise in rodents is because of the “recent mild winter” weather.
“Recent mild winters have seen an increase in vermin across the country”
A spokesperson for PAH NHS Trust said: “Recent mild winters have seen an increase in vermin across the country.
“We take patient, staff and visitor safety seriously and deploy preventative measures to pest control by employing a pest control contractor to visit each of our four hospitals every week, particularly in areas where our facilities are susceptible to vermin.
“We have also introduced additional housekeeping measures as well, such as frequently emptying bins and cleaning across our sites.
“We believe the construction work at Westwood Park at The Royal Oldham Hospital, where we have built a new staff car park, as well as construction and expansion work at our other hospital, has disturbed their natural habitat.
“We always act very promptly to deal with any pests that are reported to us and we take pest control very seriously, reacting quickly to deal with any issues so that staff and patients are not affected.”
ROH saw a fall in pest incidents on the previous year when incidents racked up to 423, the spokesman added.
A Department of Health spokesman said: “Hospitals must have an effective pest control policy and the use of experts is good practice to ensure that buildings are kept clean and safe for patients.”
The majority of trusts outsourced their pest-control to private contractors such as Rentokil, ISS Facility Services and Medirest and paid for regular inspections as well as ad hoc call-outs to pest sightings.