COCKROACHES in a corridor, fleas in the children’s unit and ants in the restaurant are among the pest infestations reported by staff at the Great Western Hospital in the last year.

Figures released to the Adver under a Freedom of Information request reveal that the trust spent £16,960 on controlling pests during the period, including calling out Bristol-based firm MITIE Pest Control on 19 occasions.

This figure includes the Trust's £15,915 annual contract with the pest controllers, and the additional £1,045 paid for call outs, giving a total of £16,960.

Staff reported fleas on eight occasions, including twice in the children’s ward, and two reports of the blood-sucking insect were confirmed by controllers: one in the children’s unit in July and one in the Carillion office and Clover Centre in August.

MITIE was alerted to sightings of cockroaches in a corridor on the second floor in July and in a lift area of the treatment centre in August. However only one of the disease-spreading insect, believed to be a “stray”, was found by controllers in the first instance, and in the second instance the infestation was identified as beetles and woodlice.

Other confirmed infestations in the year include ants in the discharge centre in July, beetles in a resuscitation room in August, black ants in the restaurant area in August, pigeons nesting in a children’s play area in August, and flying insects in the radiology secretaries’ office in September. However, there were no reports of rodents, which have invaded the hospital in the past.

A trust spokeswoman said 19 call-outs in a year was not a high number of pests and there had not been a significant increase in pests. She said cockroaches are common pests which like warm conditions found within buildings, but fleas are less common.

Roger Thomas, director of estates and facilities at Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Pests can be a problem for any large organisation, including hospitals. Sometimes reports of pests when investigated can turn out to be nothing, and sometimes they require action to be taken.

“In July, there was one cockroach sighted in a hospital corridor which pest control were informed of. In August there was a further report of cockroaches in a lift area, but these were identified as beetles and woodlice, which are common to any building and no action is required.

“This year there have been seven reports of fleas within the hospital. Most of the time these reports turn out to be a case of mistaken identity confusing dust mites – which you will find in any area - with fleas, or during the summer midges which come in through open windows.

“There were two were confirmed cases, one in the children’s unit and one in an office area. These were treated by pest control as soon as identified. Where there are reports of a pest, but no evidence found, insect monitors are supplied and the areas treated and cleaned as a precaution.

“Pests will never be completely eliminated due to their nature, however we have a number of preventative measures in place and work very hard to ensure pest issues are kept to a minimum, including responding quickly to any report and closely monitoring.”