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Hospital criticised for asking nurses to clean wards ahead of CQC inspection

A leading hospital in Liverpool has been criticised for asking doctors and nurses to clean wards in preparation for visit from the Care Quality Commission.

It has been revealed that staff at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, including consultants and managers, were asked to volunteer to do some cleaning ahead of a visit from the Care Quality Commission.

The CQC criticised the hospital’s hygiene standards in April this year, and it is thought there was a concerted drive to impress inspectors.

However, unions said volunteers should not have been used for this purpose and Paul Summers, UNISON’s regional organiser, said some employees felt pressure to comply.

Dr Jaswinder Bamrah, of the British Medical Association, said: “Doctors and nurses have been asked to volunteer to clean the hospital and I just do not think it is right.

“They are over-using a highly skilled workforce to do what they are not trained to do.

“They need to look at the issue of who is paid to do the cleaning and sort it out.

“This step takes doctors and nurses away from patient care - the time spent cleaning would be better spent providing care for patients.

“This has been an ongoing problem for Alder Hey and it is very important to make sure the hospital is cleaned properly by those paid to do it - otherwise all sorts of problems can arise, like MRSA or C difficile spreading.”

Readers' comments (16)

  • Wow - words fail me - whatever next

    I notice that they did not ask the Board Members and Executive team to give up some time to pick a mop and bucket !!!

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  • Is it no wonder that the public have no confidence in hospitals and health care professionals when this could be seen as covering up issues and trying to impress to get a clean bill of health from the care quality issues when in fact the problems are not being addressed correctly in the first place
    and you what it doesnt even shock me !!!!
    patients deserve more and health care professionals deserve to be valued

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  • Why am I not surprised? The management of this hospital should be sacked and replaced with people who are capable of managing the domestic services department. What on earth are they doing (and being paid for) if the hospital is still so filthy that staff are asked to come and clean it. I doubt unfortunately that this is an isolated case. Surely there is an element of fraud in what these poor drs/nurses have been asked to do, covering up poor practice should be seen as gross misconduct and the entire board should be sacked for allowing this to happen. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

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  • What's new?..come to our hospital and see what the nurses are doing, it's multitasking big time, we are not only cleaners, we are also receptionist, food server, auxilliary, flower arranger, and so on and so forth..i assure you no one will gonna stay in this profession..

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  • Recently on placement most of the staff in the clinic stayed late one night to clean for an inspection - I don't think they had the balls to ask me, but I'll hand it to them - sister in charge was there chipping in - seems like an expensive cleaning lady to me - why dont they hire students to help - we need the money and we are so much cheaper!

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  • As a member of staff i must say i didnt not volunteer, as i feel that after doing full time shifts plus 2 extra shifts as bank, a day off was justified !
    Just in response to the 1st comment, the executive team wre involved in the cleaning process ... scrubs and all !

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  • How could a managment team, consisting of senior managers conspire to cover up serious failings in cleanliness. Only one word comes to mind as a result of dirt and that is INFECTION. Millions of pounds are being spent in an effort to control infection in hospitals around the country and this managment team have already had one warning with regard to their standards in this area. The bond of TRUST has been broken. Shame on all who conspired. Not thinking of our patients, are we. Not much advocating going on.
    Cleaning services used to be in-house and I have seen a ward sister ask a cleaner, politely but firmly, to do the floor again because it wasn't good enough.
    Then along came Mrs. Thatcher, Ken Clarke, Brian Mulwinney, capping health service budgets, and suggested that if the hospitals needed more money to spend then they should manage properly and make cuts in certain services, leaving it to their new managers from Trust House Forte and Barclays to decide where to cut. With their massive experience in running hospitals they made these cuts and they got rid of a lot of very efficient department managers who made a difference. They also ended up opting out domestic services to very substandard private cleaning companies who paid low wages and our patients have suffered ever since. There are now in-house cleaning services again in places but employing the same staff and domestic managers that we ended up with after their privatisation and pay cuts. Not properly trained and spreading it all around.
    These hospital managers are capable of anything. They have no scruples.
    In my old hospital they failed to disclose an outbreak of Legionaires Disease in our maternity/scbu. Without informing the staff of the risk, they decided to monitor staff health looking for unresolved chest infections over the following 6 month.
    Just after his engagement our CE formed the non-executive trust consisting of 5 members. The first thing they did was to give the CE a 100% pay rise.
    What do I hear you shout? bring back matron? and don't tell me we have them now pleeeease. [Another story].

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  • I work at the aforementioned hospital and it was hard work cleaning at at time when the nursing and medical staff were already overstretched. However minimising clutter and the radical clean has made an improvement in looks (although finding equipment is now fun!) The patient care has not changed - it was never less than excellent! Pity the place looks so unfestive now - not allowed tinsel or decorations that can't either be cleaned or chucked afterwards!

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  • How many hours cleaning did the poor underpaid and overworked admin' drones volunteer to put in? Or was venturing into the real workplace too stressful an experience for the little darlings?

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  • Awesome Roger.

    I think that some of these little darlings need to experience 12 hour shifts with no breaks mulitasking all the time, constantly being interrupted and constantly fearing that you'll get someone hurt or killed because you cannot be 10 places at once. And, in addition to that, spend 2 hours after that 12 hour day doing unpaid time to complete paperwork to avoid a lawsuit. It would be nice to give a taste of reality on the wards to these people who work pathetic 8 hour days whilst sitting down with a nice lunch break and have no life and death responsibility!

    Indeed why aren't the little darlings being asked to do the cleaning rather than nurses and doctors. We can't even take care of our patients because we have more patients than any health care professional should ever be expected to handle at one time.

    Militant medical nurse blog.

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  • Phil Dup

    By implication was this extra cleaning fraudulent activity in action.
    If the place was not clean enough for an inspection then what happens after the inspection when it goes back to normal day to day cleaning - it will then not be clean enough again which is compromising patient care and increasing staff stress.
    The only way to get a true picture would be to have unannounced spot checks by the CQC - that would maybe then get trusts to employ the correct amount of cleaners. It makes my blood boil seeing the way Executive Management fiddle their way through their jobs whereas if I fiddled my clinical records I would get struck off ! Seems like we aint all equal before the law after all !

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  • This is outrageous and I have to confess that if I were on the staff I would refuse to do this work. As a trained nurse I would see it as an abuse of my training and skills and I would question why those contracted to do the cleaning are not doing properly the job they are paid to do. If the hospital management respond in this way when an inspection is due then that would suggest that they are indifferent to poor standards of hygiene the rest of the time.

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  • Where I work, it is not just the cleaning that's done before an inspection, other aspects of ward activities are given special attention also, I'm sure others experience this also so I won't bore you all. What this issue demonstrates is the complete lack of backbone management has. What they are incapable of, is arguing the case for proper funding for delivering services, either through lack of knowledge, lack of will, lack of skill. They are soley interested in their own career progression. It has long been a contention of mine that the sole essential quality to progress up the management ladder is that one has to be an obsequious individual who will carry out the instructions of the boss without question. Far from it being a sign that managers are willing to help out when needed, it is in fact a sign of week management, that they are not capable of getting the job done and they are just covering their backs, and failing at that too. The only proper way to carry out inspections is for inspectors to arrive unannounced, otherwise the inspections are meaningless, just as it is meaningless that all this effort was put in to clean the hospital for the inspection, because everybody knows what goes on and managers are making themselves look like fools. And doing a very good job of that if nothing else.

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  • Bring back the 'good old days'. When I was a charge nurse we ALL helped as and when necessary as the ward cleaner was our friend and part of our regular team.

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  • A similar situation at the trust where I work. There is a mad panic about the QCC visit and matrons are visitng the wards more often asking for cleaning to be increased. Nurses and support staff are expected to clean, which takes staff away from direct patient care. I agree that clean care is safe care and nursing staff have a certain responsibilty in ensuring that any equipment used on patients is cleaned before and after use. As a ward manager, I lead by example and clean the ward with staff. Too much pressure though is placed on care staff to clean. I would like to see more investment in domestic services so that nursing and care staff can actually spend time talking to patients about their experience and also auditing care. A clean and safe ward is paramount. I do not line manage domestics who I see as a cucial part of the ward team. I think that ward managers should line manage domestics with support from domestic services and infection control. There definitely needs to be a review of the roles and repsonsibilities placed on care staff with regards to cleaning. I have been on my hands and knees cleaning floor corners because I want my ward to be safe for patients but a line has to be drwan somewhere!

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  • We cleaned the ward at night (MH), when the patients were sleeping, b/c the domestics cleaning was never up to scratch, if she did any.

    We emptied clinical waste bins, moped and brushed up, hovered the office etc. But none of us minded as it passed the time. And since your not allowed to sleep on nights (I know some do on breaks, but we don't get a break) then it helps you stay awake for an hour or too. It's also a good time to organise the clinic.

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