Nurses 'having to clean toilets and mop floors'

Toilet at Royal Cornwall Hospital
Image caption In June a complaint was made about the toilets at Royal Cornwall Hospital

Nurses are having to clean toilets and mop hospital floors amid concerns over cleaning provision, says a survey.

A survey of 1,000 NHS nurses and health assistants, by Nursing Times, found a third had cleaned toilets or mopped floors in the previous 12 months.

More than half believed cleaning services for their wards were inadequate and a fifth said hospital managers had cut back on cleaning.

Two-fifths had cleaned a bed after an infectious patient had been discharged.

And almost three-quarters said they had not received training for such cleaning.

Rose Gallagher, the Royal College of Nursing's adviser on infection prevention and control, told the Nursing Times: "This is not about saying nurses are too posh to wash. Cleaning in hospitals is not the same as cleaning your own home."

'No dedicated cleaner'

Andrew Jones, president of the Association of Healthcare Cleaning Professionals, said it was "inevitable" nurses would end up doing some cleaning during out-of-hour periods.

He told the Nursing Times the best practice for hospital wards was to have a dedicated cleaner but added: "Some of the responses would suggest that's not the case as often as we would want."

Around 37% of nurses said their trusts would not close a bed even if it had not been cleaned properly.

Some also said they had cleaned corridors, computers, nursing stations and offices.

A new specification on cleaning in hospitals was published last year by the Department of Health, the National Patient Safety Agency and the British Standards Institution.

But the new guidelines did not specify the appropriate cleaning duties for nurses, said the Nursing Times.

Tracey Cooper, president of the Infection Prevention Society, said: "Nurses are the guardians of the standards of their wards.

"Cleaning has always been an integral part of what nurses do. The risk comes when there is a lack of clarity about process and who is responsible because then you get things that nobody cleans."

A Department of Health (DoH) spokeswoman said: "Hospitals have a duty to provide a clean and safe environment for patients and they should do everything they can to ensure that nurses can spend as much time involved in patient care as possible.

"Cleaning staff should have the necessary skills and resources available to maintain a high quality environment for patients."

The DoH said NHS spending on cleaning last year was up £40.7m to £937.9m.

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