Improvement in UK cleaning standards?

27th of June 2014
Improvement in UK cleaning standards?

ECJ’S UK correspondent reports on the cleanliness situation in the National Health Service (NHS).

A shadow hung over the usual jollifications at ISSA/Interclean in Amsterdam following the totally unexpected death of Peter Holt, and although there was news of orders and success, it had a hollow ring this time.

We have had five weeks in a general hospital - a period which provided a patient’s eye view of the National Health Service (NHS). Have things improved? Changed? Are the cost cutting exercises taking effect?

In the five months prior to our last visit there have been changes, many for the better. Nurses and staff now make time to talk and interact with the patients and if compassion is not taught (can it ever be?) It is now clearly an area that is central to damage limitation.

What of cleaning, once an easy target for the press and public alike? Has it improved? It has become to an extent a tick box exercise - overhead rails dusted – tick. Floor spray cleaned – tick. We saw it happen but not once was there an inspection, though presumably these must happen. The danger here is complacency and a “that’s what we always do” attitude.

So in the God of small things, a satisfactory state of affairs, and better communication between staff and patients.

The NHS remains a behemoth and as such requires a very high standard of management and forward thinking. It does not need to be bedevilled by politics or short termism. Some of the major problems have been threatening for 20 years, have now arrived and are not being tackled realistically.

Muddying the water is the desire of the political party in power to demonstrate cost saving and efficiencies. Many of the services we received are contracted out but no figures are available on savings made. There is a considerable section of the public which appears to believe that contracted out services are not paid for by the trusts/GP’s or anyone but save money and cut costs. If they were not paid for they would, wouldn’t they?

Biggest unsolved and untackled problem? The rapidly ageing population. Acute general hospitals all have wards with dementia patients, dumped by care homes who care until their clients begin to lose his or her compass or falls on a regular basis when they are despatched to the hospital
and their room reoccupied.

To tackle all of this we have no geriatric hospitals and behind them only the magnificent hospices relying on voluntary support.

Start thinking about it. Cleaning matters. As an industry we are quite good at it. It pales into insignificance against the overall chasm we face and which could and should be tackled now. The members of parliament have extra holiday. Nothing to do,eh.


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