Saturday, 1 September 2007

Maternity Maggots

"Maggots fall into maternity ward" screamed the BBC headline. "Ewww," I thought, and, of course, had to read the article.

I was expecting reports of a scene from a horror movie, or, at least, something even more unpleasant than I would normally expect to find in the NHS. Rotting cadavers under the ceiling tiles, perhaps, stuffed out of sight to meet some target or other.

But, alas, the story turns out to be rather more mundane. It seems that a seagull met an untimely end on the roof of Scarborough Hospital's maternity unit, and nature took its inevitable course. A few maggots found their way through the tiles into the ceiling fittings, and dropped through into the unit, although they were considerate enough to do so well away from patients and babies.

Despite the disappointing lack of Gothic horror in this article, it does present some interesting features, notably the hospital's frantic efforts to soothe the media's ruffled feathers (presumably, the seagull was well past the stage where any soothing was required). Definitely, according to Medical Director Dr Ian Holland, this incident had nothing to do with cuts in maintenance budgets, or the hospital's massive debts.

And you know what? Despite my deeply ingrained cynicism, I believe him. It's very hard to imagine specially trained anti-deceased-seagull operatives swarming all over hospital roofs in a relentless quest for lifeless Laridae, even in the most prosperous of times.

On the other hand, Dr Holland's representation of a professional team swinging into action to deal with this situation with all the efficiency of a well oiled machine strikes me as faintly ridiculous. He said, "As soon as we became aware of this, we took immediate action, bringing in specialist equipment to remove the dead bird from the tiles and cleaning out the roof cavity."

Specialist equipment?? IS there any specialist equipment designed to assist in the removal of dead seagulls? If so, I bet it's sold to a very small niche market of specialist customers with very peculiar needs. Nor can I successfully picture emergency claxons sounding, lights flashing and a bunch of dudes clad in white contamination suits legging it towards the maternity unit, utility belts bristling with seagull extraction devices.

Rather, this being the NHS, I can visualise a scruffy, unshaven guy in a boilersuit, cigg drooping from the edge of his mouth, slowly advocating with ladder, brush and shovel to combat this dreadful threat. And, if they're really pushing the boat out, a swift wipe around with a mucky rag afterwards.

Still, as Dr Holland rightly points out, "It's been an example of how everyone in the NHS has to cope with whatever situation arises, and everyone has done a marvellous job to take such an unexpected incident in their stride."

Well done, lads and lasses. And now, back to base for a well earned cuppa while you await the next bird-based threat to the NHS. Dead parrots, anyone?

Billy Seggars.


Anonymous said...

Actually, the hospital is not quite as swift as you think they are. In actuality, Maggots have been used Medicinally, for wound cleaning. It's called "debridemant" As gross as this sounds, they are packed into the infected wound and eat only the decaying or infected areas leaving healthy tissue untouched. Medical science has no tool for such selective micro wound cleaning as maggots. If the hospital was really on par, they would have saved the maggots for wound cleaning.

Grow your own maggots! Pubmed article.

Anonymous said...

Y'know, I think I've heard of that, now that you mention it. Seems a bit advanced for the NHS, though :-)

Billy Seggars.

Anonymous said...

seagull or stork???