Nurses forced to clean hospital wards

NURSES at cash-strapped Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust have been forced to fill in for cleaners two days a week due to its financial problems, according to a report on superbug infections.

Nurses at Dewsbury Hospital have been filling in for cleaners and standards across the trust – which also runs Pontefract and Pinderfields hospitals – have been criticised in the report by Prof Brian Duerden, who the trust commissioned to examine why it was struggling to meet targets on MRSA and clostridium difficile (C.diff) infection rates.

The report, which was put before the trust board last week, said cleaning required “urgent attention” and that “there is not sufficient funding to provide cleaners 24/7 across the three sites”.

Pontefract and Pinderfields hospitals have cleaning contracts in place as part of their PFI deals, but the report found the time allowed for cleaning after patients’ were discharged “appears to be less than the 45 minutes generally regarded as necessary for an effective clean”.

Prof Duerden also suggested nursing staff shortages and “frequent ward transfers” contributed to high infection rates.

Pontefract and Castleford MP Yvette Cooper said: “This report shows that the government’s cuts and reforms are hitting patient care.

“The local NHS has had to put aside £30m for bureaucratic reorganisation, yet this report shows it isn’t doing enough on the basics like cleaning standards to keep patients safe.

“No one wants to see nurses taken away from patient care because NHS cuts mean cleaning standards aren’t good enough.”

A trust spokeswoman said: “In common with other trusts, on occasions members of ward staff may be required to assist with bed space cleaning following the discharge of a patient. This may occur in the evening or overnight and is necessary to ensure that the trust can admit patients requiring emergency admission.

“Our aim is always to discharge patients during the daytime to provide the best possible patient experience.The trust is committed to providing hygienic bed spaces and reducing healthcare associated infection rates. We are pleased to report that our infection rates so far this year are equal to, or better than the targets for reduction.”