SUSSEX’S busiest hospital has been ordered to protect its patients after an elderly woman died after being given cleaning fluid instead of orange juice to drink.

The Care Quality Commission carried out an emergency inspection at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton following the death of Joan Catherine Blaber on September 23 last year.

But inspectors found cleaning fluids still incorrectly stored.

The 85-year-old widow, from Lewes, had been admitted to the hospital in August following a suspected stroke and had remained on a ward to receive treatment for leg ulcers.

But she died after she drank an orange liquid.

The chief inspector of hospitals has now told Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust that it must take steps to ensure its patients are protected from potentially hazardous cleaning materials.

Inspectors visited the hospital unannounced in October.

Deputy chief inspector Amanda Stanford said: “The regulations governing the safe use of these cleaning products are there to protect people from harm. During our inspection we found that these chemicals were not always being kept safely.

“We have told the trust they must ensure all products that are subject to regulations are stored securely.

“Nursing staff too must be aware of the regulations and their responsibilities with regard to safe storage and use of these products.”

During the inspection they found that housekeeping assistants had a good knowledge of the regulations relating to hazardous substances but some nursing staff were not clear about their responsibilities.

Cleaning staff told inspectors there had been occasions when cleaning fluids had been decanted into other containers and there had been occasions where this had happened without authorisation. Cleaning products were also not always stored securely and found stored in unlocked utility rooms and kitchens and on three wards.

The hospital must now produce a report to show how they are improving.

Dr Rob Haigh, Medical Director, Brighton & Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust, said:

 "This inspection followed the death of a patient in September 2017 at the Royal Sussex County Hospital following an incident on a medical ward.  Our thoughts are with the patient’s family.

 “The incident was reported straight away and we took immediate, trust-wide action to prevent the same thing happening again.

 “In the seven months since the CQC's inspection, we have taken significant steps to improve the way we manage potentially hazardous substances both in terms of staff training and the way these substances are stored and used, addressing the points published in today's report.”