Cleaners to discuss hospitals

HOSPITAL cleaners from Suffolk were among hundreds travelling to London this morning to express fears about a decline in cleaning standards in the county's hospitals.

HOSPITAL cleaners from Suffolk were among hundreds travelling to London this morning to express fears about a decline in cleaning standards in the county's hospitals.

In a national conference, organised by UNISON, cleaners were due to highlight the cost-cutting measures they feel are stopping them doing their jobs properly.

Tony Jones, UNISON's regional officer for Suffolk, said: "They will be highlighting concerns about the constant contracting out of services to companies who put profit in front of service delivery.

"They will also be talking about constant reductions in staffing levels.

"We've got trusts in this area who are running at a massive overspend and consistently taking the soft option of not replacing cleaners who leave. The problem has got to ridiculous proportions now."

The conference comes on the day Unison publish a new report, Cleaners' Voice, which highlights a decline in cleaning standards at hospitals across the country.

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Included in the report are comments from cleaners at West Suffolk Hospital who highlight a lack of cleaning staff and a lack of morale.

UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis, said: "The sheer frustration felt by hospital cleaners trying to do a good job, pours out of these pages.

"The impossibility of trying to clean too many wards with not enough staff, the cheap disinfectants, the shoddy equipment, the lack of training and sadly the lack of respect from other staff, are all barriers to cleaner hospitals."

Jan Rowsell, spokeswoman for Ipswich Hospital, where cleaning is currently contracted out to OCS, denied that standards of services had declined.

She said: "Over the last few years we've made big investments in our cleaning services and we work in very close partnership with OCS.

"In terms of numbers its difficult to say whether we have more or less cleaners now, but what's clear is that there's a lot more focus on cleaning because of the need to make sure we are doing everything we can to reduce infection."

A spokeswoman for West Suffolk Hospital said the hospital has introduced a number of changes to its cleaning regime, including setting up a helpdesk for the housekeeping department which deals with all cleanliness issues reported by staff, visitors and patients.

All housekeeping staff have also received extra training in infection control and individual cleaners have been placed on rapid response teams which do an intense clean of an area when there is an outbreak of illness in the hospital, for example, the winter vomiting virus.

New cleaning trollies, floor maintenance machinery, and microfibre mops have also been introduced.

Are you worried about the standards of cleanliness in our hospitals? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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