THE head of a health watchdog has rebuked a GP's wife for raising publicly her worries that hospital patients were getting drunk on alcoholic soap gel.
Soap containers have been put at the end of every bed at Prince Philip Hospital in Llanelli as part of a national Clean Hands campaign to combat the MRSA super- bug.
Tegwen Devichand told fellow members of the local community health council an anxious nurse had reported that soap with a 60% alcohol content was being consumed by misguided patients.
But she was rapped by the watchdog's angry chairman Martin Morris, who said she should not have mentioned the matter in public. He dismissed the claims as unfounded and said they sounded more like an early April Fool's joke.
Mrs Devichand is a Carmarthenshire county councillor who has a seat on the Llanelli and Dinefwr Community Health Council, which represents patients and the public.
"I was told that male patients on a ward were walking about in a very strange state because they were squeezing the tubes and apparently drinking the soap," she said.
"The idea was that they were trying to get drunk. I know it sounds incredible but some people will do almost anything.
"I brought it up because I was concerned and I wanted to report my concern to the proper body, which was the Carmarthenshire NHS Trust.
"There has not even been much time for the hospital to report back but I think it has been blown out of proportion by the media. I am worried to say anything now."
Huw Beynon, deputy chief executive of the local NHS Trust, said, "This is the first I have heard of this but I will make some inquiries."
But Mr Morris said last night that the comments about alcoholic soap were groundless.
"I've spoken to Tegwen about this and she should never have brought this up at the meeting. I asked her not to, but I could not stop her.
"The trust made it clear then that it was not aware of these reports and has since found them groundless.
"It sounds to me more like an early April Fool's joke. This soap is a thick gel like toothpaste so it would be impossible to drink.
"And it does not have 60% alcohol content. It has a little alcohol in it to help spread easier."