Cleaning duties 'not always clear' between nurses and domestics

16th of April 2015
Cleaning duties 'not always clear' between nurses and domestics

The issue of who is responsible for specific hospital cleaning tasks - nurses or domestic staff - is raising concerns at the National Health Service (NHS) Scotland.

NHS infection control inspectors say there is a lack of clarity between the cleaning responsibilities of nursing staff and cleaners. The Healthcare Environment Inspectorate is also concerned about the cleanliness of patient equipment and poor standards in accident and emergency departments.

A&E cleanliness and the responsibilities of staffing groups were highlighted as key areas for improvement in the inspectorate's recent annual report.

"Generally, nursing staff are responsible for cleaning patient equipment and domestic staff clean wards and departments," stated the report. "For nursing staff this includes managing any blood or body fluid spillages. We found occasions where some cleaning responsibilities were not clear between nursing and domestic staff, for example the cleaning of patient beds. In some instances we were told ‘there is no time to clean' between patient use'."

The inspectorate also warned that a poor standard of cleaning in emergency departments was a "common theme" identified in its visits this year. Many of its concerns were due to contaminated trolley beds, it said.

"NHS boards and hospitals need to establish clear systems for emergency trolley beds to allow time to clean between patients to avoid any risk of infection," it stated. "We are aware that emergency departments can be very busy and challenging places to provide patient care. While finding the time to clean in busy areas like this is demanding, it is essential to provide patient confidence that the hospital is safe and clean."

Overall the inspectorate said cleanliness standards in hospitals were "generally improving", but warned against complacency.



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