Experts called 7,026 times in 2013/14, which is almost 600 times a month
Rats and cockroaches on filthy hospital wards mean the NHS is calling out pest control 19 times a day, shocking figures reveal.
Hospitals are riddled with mice, bed bugs and fleas, and in one hospital, ants were found 'crawling over patients'.
A Freedom of Information investigation found that hospitals in England called out pest control experts no fewer than 7,026 times in 2013/14 – almost 600 times a month.
Worryingly, the situation has deteriorated over the past five years in many of the 107 trusts who provided full figures.
The number of calls to pest controllers got worse in 42 trusts, while it improved in 27. Infestations included cockroaches, rats, mice, bed bugs, fleas and ants – many of which were in clinical areas or on hospital wards.
At Ludlow Hospital in Shropshire, managers reported an 'ant infestation in maternity unit, near to babies', and managers at North Bristol NHS Trust put in a report saying: 'Very urgent – ants now crawling over patients.'
Sheffield's health and social care NHS trust reported that 'patients were getting bite marks' on one of its mental health wards. At Aintree University Hospital, there were 67 sightings of cockroaches in 2013/14, including on wards.
Between February 18 and March 26, 2014, the Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath reported five incidents involving rats in their day surgery unit.
And Great Western Hospital in Swindon reported: 'Pigeons were seen on roof. Six pigeons shot using air rifle and removed from site.'
Labour pointed out that NHS hospitals are now employing almost 2,400 fewer cleaners, down from 41,046 in 2011/12 to 38,653 in 2013/14.