Nurses are being forced to clean toilets and mop hospital floors on top of their patient care duties, finds surveyMore than half of NHS nurses say cleaning services for their ward are inadequateOne in five say their trust has cut back on cleaning in the last year
00:47 GMT, 4 September 2012
Nurses looking after patients in hospitals have also been forced to disinfect toilets and mop floors as hard-up NHS trusts cut spending on cleaning.
More than half of NHS nurses told researchers that they believed cleaning services for their ward were inadequate, with about a fifth saying their hospital trust had made cuts in the last year.
The survey of 1,000 nurses and health assistants revealed a third had cleaned toilets or mopped floors in the last 12 months.
Burden: A ward is deep-cleaned at the Royal Free Hospital in London. A survey suggests that NHS nurses across the country are having to carry out more and more cleaning tasks themselves
Some also reported having to clean corridors, computers, nursing stations and offices.
Two in five respondents said they had cleaned a bed area or single room vacated by a patient who was infectious.
Four in five said they had performed the same task following the discharge of a non-infectious patient.
Worryingly, almost three quarters of respondents said they had not been trained for such cleaning practices.
And 37 per cent of nurses admitted that their trust would make a bed available to patients even if it had not been cleaned properly.
The survey was conducted by the Nursing Times.
'This is not about saying nurses are too posh to wash,' the Royal College of Nursing's adviser on infection prevention and control, Rose Gallagher, told the magazine.
'Cleaning in hospitals is not the same as cleaning your own home.'
A new specification on cleaning in hospitals was published last year by the Department of Health, National Patient Safety Agency and the British Standards Institution.
Scaled back: About a fifth of nurses said their hospital trust had made cuts to cleaning services in the last year
However, the new guidelines did not specify the appropriate cleaning duties for nurses, the magazine reported.
Tracey Cooper, president of the Infection Prevention Society, said: 'Nurses are the guardians of the standards of their wards.
'Cleaning has always been an integral part of what nurses do.
'The risk comes when there is a lack of clarity about process and who is responsible because then you get things that nobody cleans.'
Andrew Jones, president of the Association of Healthcare Cleaning Professionals, said it was 'inevitable' that nurses would end up doing some cleaning of patient areas during out-of-hour periods.
But he said that the best practice for hospital wards was to have a dedicated cleaner.
'When that happens we get better cleanliness standards and a better motivated workforce,' Mr Jones said. 'Some of the responses would suggest that's not the case as often as we would want.'