Magazine and toy ban in doctors’ surgeries

PUBLISHED: 09:00 03 December 2010 | UPDATED: 09:11 03 December 2010




MAGAZINES and toys have been banned from doctors’ waiting rooms across North Somerset in a bid to stop the spread of infections.

About half of the surgeries contacted by the Mercury have either stopped supplying them or have limited their numbers to prevent patients catching each other’s germs.

Traditionally, those waiting to see their GP have been able to pass the time by reading a magazine or book, but now they are being asked to take their own to leaf through.

Surgeries in Weston, Worle and outlying villages are among those who have taken it up.

Practice manager at Tudor Lodge surgery in Nithsdale Road, Weston, Val Denton, said: “We started banning them after the last flu pandemic and continued it from there.

“Weighing it up, if a child is playing with a tea set, another child may also do that and may have something nasty.

“We have also introduced wipeable and covered benches in the waiting room instead of chairs and these are sterilised every couple of hours.”

Jose Tarnowski, practice manager and Churchill and Wrington surgeries, says toys and children’s books in the waiting room are deemed to be an infection risk as young children tend to put them into their mouths.

She says they have been advised by NHS North Somerset’s quality and infection control department that having magazines in waiting rooms is a cross-infection risk as they are picked up by various people in the waiting rooms,

They have kept the ban on toys, but following an outcry from patients when they removed the magazines, they put them out in the waiting rooms again.

She added: “At Churchill we have a nice fish tank with tropical fish, which seems to entertain the children - and is safe.

“I have noticed that many parents have the foresight to bring books and toys of their own to entertain their children while waiting.”

NHS North Somerset, the PCT, says that during the swine flu pandemic it advised practices to ensure that the only toys in surgery were washable and that they were cleaned regularly and thoroughly.

They added: “This is an important infection control measure and the advice is designed to protect the health of children.

“Advice on magazines is that they can cause clutter and it is best not to have too many of them lying around as this can make thorough cleaning more difficult.

“Ultimately the final decision is down to the surgery and there is no PCT directive to this effect.”

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