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The Care Quality Commission’s ‘State of Care’ report on the findings of the latest round of inspections of our nation’s hospitals has just been published. Although it doesn’t have an individual section concerning cleaning itself, infection control – and in particular, hospital-acquired infections, are covered in the chapter on safety.
I find this ‘lumping together’ of cleaning with safety rather worrying, because if the cleaning isn’t being done properly and infection control procedures aren’t adhered to, all the other hospital processes – no matter how good – are going to be affected too, aren’t they? Or is that just me being anal about cleaning?
The report acknowledges that safety in the hospital environment requires, “comprehensive processes involving multiple specialisms”. That phrase could be used to describe the cleaning process alone, couldn’t it, but clearly this isn’t something that everyone understands!
Sadly, the inspections highlighted examples of poor safety culture, a lack of processes – and, in some cases, disregard for patients’ safety. Incomplete safety checks and audits, staff not receiving essential training and not undertaking mandatory courses, inadequate management of medicines, ineffective record keeping, poor management of patients at risk of health complications and ineffective use of the national early warning score system, disregard for infection control practices and unsafe patient streaming processes were all listed as having been inspected under the ‘safety’ aspect. The illustration here shows that only 26% of hospitals were considered ‘good’ and no doubt we’ll find out more about the part cleaning played in the figures, as the individual hospitals’ reports are circulated.
I’ve visited several different areas of a two hospitals on many occasions recently and am happy to report that generally they were clean despite patient and visitor carelessness clearly causing problems for the cleaners. I dismissed a comment that the patients’ dayroom in one hospital smelt strongly of urine and assumed it must be a strong disinfectant, but upon visiting it the following afternoon, not only did I agree that it was indeed urine, but I noticed that the floor itself was sticky underfoot and the mopping smears across the entire floor were clear to see. Yes – the cleaner was following proper mopping patterns, but was smearing the urine across the floor whilst doing so! Needless to say, I am investigating…
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5th November 2015