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The real NHS cleaning scandal


The main focus of attention following the recent Nursing Times’ survey of ward cleaning by nurses and healthcare assistants was on nurses filling in for healthcare cleaners.

This advertorial, sponsored by SoChlor disinfection solutions from GV Health, considers the lack of training nurses receive in environmental cleaning which was highlighted in the recent Nursing Times survey of ward cleaning.

The main focus of attention following the recent Nursing Times’ survey of ward cleaning by nurses and healthcare assistants was on nurses filling in for healthcare cleaners. But the fact that three quarters of nurses in the survey had received no training on the cleaning protocols to be followed after the discharge of a non-infectious patient despite 81% having done this in the past year, should be causing much greater concern.

Even more alarmingly given the lack of training, as many as 40% of nurses responding to the survey had cleaned a bed area or single room following the discharge of an infectious patient.


Not too posh to wash

One of the most encouraging findings in the survey is that nurses categorically reject the suggestion that they are ‘too posh to wash’. 84% of those surveyed agreed that cleaning is part of a nurse’s role.

You can debate which cleaning tasks nurses should perform and when these should be undertaken by nurses or by domestic staff.

But the real concern should be that as of now nurses are regularly undertaking critical discharge cleaning tasks for which 75% of them have not been properly trained.

Poor healthcare cleaning can be fatal

Discharge cleaning is a highly specialised task. As Rose Gallagher, the Royal College of Nursing’s adviser on infection prevention and control put it “Cleaning in hospitals is not the same as cleaning your own home.”

And getting it wrong is not an option. Poor discharge cleaning is a major infection control risk and has played a role in a number of infection control scandals in the past.

The vital steps

So what should be done? Quite simply, nurses must be trained in current healthcare cleaning protocols, routines and products.

Product and protocol training is a vital first step. The DoH recommended environmental cleaning products are water soluble tablets. However, the same product can be used at different dilution rates for different applications.

The commonly held view of ‘if in doubt make it stronger’ is dangerous to patients and staff, environmentally damaging, wasteful, expensive and, frankly, no longer acceptable in today’s NHS.

One excellent source of product and protocol training are the cleaning department and teams in your hospital, so strengthening links here is essential. Moreover, by understanding the different priorities and constraints of each department, cleaning processes may be planned and organised more effectively.

Cost awareness matters too

It might not be a popular view, but knowing the relative costs of environmental cleaning products is also vitally important.

The latest non-chlorine cleaners may be great for some uses. However, they cost many times that of chlorine based products which can very easily lead to budgets being curtailed if they are used unnecessarily.

Soluble Chlorine based products remain the DoH and WHO recommendation for most environmental cleaning needs.

Time for a fresh take on chlorine

This is why SoChlor is now encouraging everyone, including nurses, undertaking environmental cleaning to take a fresh look at chlorine based products.

Research has shown that many of the issues users have encountered with chlorine based cleaners in the past in fact relate to poor training and poor product use, particularly with over strength solutions.

New SoChlor addresses these issues head on with re-engineered tablet sizes, redesigned diluters and a heavy emphasis on training, something notably absent in the past from other suppliers.

Expert on-site training

SoChlor is the only environmental cleaner to address the training gap. Hospitals using SoChlor have access to free on-site training by fully qualified infection control specialists.

SoChlor is also the first supplier to provide innovative and unique usage aids including Crib Sheets to help users.

Soluble chlorine is still the DoH recommendation

The newest and most advanced soluble chlorine cleaner available to the NHS today is SoChlor. SoChlor comes both with and without a detergent. Both types are effective against fungal, bacterial & sporicidal activity when used correctly.

SoChlor is NHS Pharmacy approved and certified with test standards: BS:EN1650, BS:EN1276, BS:EN13704 & BS:EN13697. SoChlor is available now from NHS Supply Chain, costing up to 43% less than any other similarly specified product.

SoChlor supplier GV Health can be contacted by email on or by phone on 01920 463098. More information about SoChlor is available on the GV Health website

For details and to order SoChlor from NHS Supply Chain go to the Advanced Infection Control section of the NHS Supply Chain website.


Readers' comments (2)

  • tinkerbell

    So what should be done? Quite simply, nurses must be trained in current healthcare cleaning protocols, routines and products.

    Yeah then watch the number of cleaners drop drastically whilst nurses take on this role too as part of their daily duties.

    No, no, no. I don't mind cleaning adhoc, as necessary but i don't want to spend my time doing it regularly when there are patients who need a nurse.

    We are becoming or have become a 'jack of all trades and master of none' with our roles completely blurred so that we don't have enough time to look after our patients already.

    If they want to cut back on cleaning services please don't use this as a red herring. We have fantastic cleaning team where i work, are they to be disbanded?

    Nursing is becoming ridiculous. Don't take us further away from the patients so we end up with a mop whilst writing up our notes, dispensing meds, washing and dressing and feeding patients, talking to relatives, attending ward rounds, answering phones, doing supervision and apprraisals, dealing with conflict etc., yada, yada, yada.

    Not to posh to wash, no, but need time with patients which has already been diminished, releasing time to care or to mop?

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  • well, I am glad they have sorted out the posh debate at long last. it is not nice being accused of being too posh to wash.

    as for the rest can't be bothered to read it as long as there is a clean bed, ward and staff for me should i ever need it and for all other patients too of course.

    as for chlorine, it is interesting that the only thing that was healing a small wound I have very nicely was a few visits of half an hour in a chlorinated swimming pool. unfortunately the pool closed for the winter before the process was finished and all the usual treatments i have tried failed miserably and delayed healing. so now it has to be left to a little indirect sunlight and fresh air.

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