NHS Grampian has been ordered to strengthen its infectious disease prevention measures after a government watchdog uncovered significant failings.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) issued six improvement notices and a notice of contravention after an inspection exposed problems related to falls, hazardous chemicals and more.
Experts visited Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, the Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital, Aberdeen Maternity Hospital, Dr Gray’s Hospital at Elgin, Woodend Hospital and Aberdeen Health and Care Village.
The HSE’s improvement notice told the health board that it does not have sufficient measures in place to guard against the threat of hepatitis B.
The infectious disease, which affects the liver, is particularly dangerous because it can sometimes take many weeks before symptoms become apparent – meaning infected individuals could spread the illness without knowing.
A spokesman for NHS Grampian said the health board was actively seeking to remedy the problems.
He said: “These notices relate to inspections undertaken in July 2016.
“We have accepted the need for action and given a commitment to addressing the issues which started immediately on the receipt of the feedback.
“A number of staff briefing sessions have taken place and we have been impressed at the level of engagement around this issue.
“Our staff are working hard to implement the improvements required.”
Hugh Pennington, emeritus professor of bacteriology at Aberdeen University, said: “I’m very surprised to hear this.
“Certainly when I worked in ARI we had very good programmes, prevention from a microbiological point of view was a top priority.
“In some people, hepatitis B can lead to problems and chronic liver disease.
“Once you’re infected, you can carry the virus for a very long time without knowing about it, so it’s really important to do checks on people to make sure there aren’t staff members who have got the virus that might be a risk to other people.
“There’s no rocket science involved. We have very good tests for it, there are treatments available as well, and it’s very well known as an issue.
“You don’t need to spend vast sums of money on it, you just have to have proper training programmes and proper monitoring to make sure people are doing what they’ve been trained to do.”