£20bn of NHS cuts are – Turning nurses into cleaners


THE Tory-LibDem Coalition’s £20 billion NHS budget cuts are leading to nurses having to clean toilets and mop hospital floors it emerged yesterday.

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

More than half believe cleaning services in their wards are inadequate and a fifth said hospital managers have cut back on cleaning.

Two-fifths of nurses have cleaned a bed after an infectious patient had been discharged and three-quarters said they have not received training for any 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.’

Asked if the survey results reveal that nurses are now being forced to clean floors and toilets as a result of NHS cuts, an RCN spokeswoman told News Line: ‘That’s certainly an inference to draw from it.’

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

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

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.’

Unison head of Nursing, Gail Adams, said: ‘Hospital cleaners work incredibly hard day in, day out, to keep our hospitals clean and safe.

‘But the basic fact is that in some wards, there are not enough of them to provide a decent level of service.

‘Hospital cleaning has never recovered from being sold off to the lowest bidder under the last Tory government.

‘This process saw the service pared to the bone, as the number of hospital acquired infections rose.’