PATIENTS have been moved from University Hospital Monklands (UHM) following the discovery of a potential deadly fungus. 

NHS Lanarkshire have confirmed that traces of aspergillus have been identified during a programme of upgrades to the ventilation system in the hospital's haematology ward. 

Due to the vulnerability of patients in the affected ward, NHS Lanarkshire have taken the decision to move the patients to allow them to complete the ongoing upgrading of the ventilation system in an empty ward, and move into their oncology outpatient ward. 

Outpatients from the oncology ward will be relocated and attend their oncology outpatient unit at University Hospital Hairmyres for a time period before relocating back to UHM for the remaining time of the haematology ward being ready for their inpatient service to return.

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NHS Lanarkshire say they have taken a number of precautionary measures in the oncology ward by introducing portable HEPA filters and prescribing anti-fungal medication (prophylactic) for those patients not already being prescribed anti-fungal medication, anti-fungal medication is often prescribing for patients whose immune system is compromised.

None of the patients are showing any signs or symptoms of aspergillosis.

Lynn Mack, NHS Lanarkshire Cancer Services Manager, said: “As soon as aspergillus was identified we took active steps to carry out further testing and identify the necessary steps we needed to take to allow us provide the safest environment we can for some of our most vulnerable patients.

“NHS Lanarkshire follows the Antimicrobial Resistance and Healthcare Associated Infections (ARHAI) Scotland guidance and all standard infection prevention and control measures are in place to keep patients and staff safe.”

Aspergillus is a common mould, a type of fungus, that lives indoors and outdoors. Most people breathe in aspergillus spores every day without getting sick. However, people with weakened immune systems or lung diseases are at a higher risk of developing health problems due to aspergillus.