THE number of reported pests in Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust (PAHT) hospitals rose more than 700 per cent, with more than £270,000 spent on the issue since 2021.

Freedom of Information Requests by the Liberal Democrats have revealed the extent of pests roaming NHS hospitals across the country.

Overall, there has been a rise in pests reported at hospitals, from 5,292 in 2021/2022 to 6,666 in 2023/2024.

At PAHT, which cares for patients at hospitals in Harlow, Epping and Bishop’s Stortford, the number of pest reports has also risen.

The number of reports has gone from just seven in 2021/22 to 58 in 2023/24.

However, further details reveal damning revelations.

These include an “offensive smell in some of the rooms” and a “growing number of rats roaming and possibly living around the ambulance offloading bay”.

The Princess Alexandra Trust also revealed it forked out more than £270,000 on pest control since 2021, with reported pests found in the children's ward, staff accommodation, breast clinic and various wards.

Elsewhere in Essex, the East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust, which cares for patients at hospitals in Colchester and Ipswich, saw the number of reports rise from 66 in 2022/23 to 86 in 2023/24.

Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey dubbed the revelations “shocking”.

“These are another sign our hospitals are no longer up to scratch for sick patients and hardworking staff,” he said.

Since 2021, more than 60 NHS Trusts have reported £3.7 million spent on pest control at their hospitals.

Michael Meredith, PAHT director of strategy and estates, said: “We take pest control seriously at PAHT.

“As with the vast majority of hospitals, we have a wide range of buildings that require careful management to keep them pest free, so we have an ongoing contract with a pest control organisation to keep issues under control, as the public would expect.

“We are proud of the quick and decisive action we have taken to eradicate any problems.

“The incidents listed for The Princess Alexandra Hospital contain very minor cases of, for example, wasps and ants, while preventative measures put in place such as pigeon nets, are working.”