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You wouldn't go to a dentist to get a broken bone set and you wouldn't put a train driver at the wheel of a bus and expect him or her to do a great job, so why on earth are we getting nurses to clean our nation's hospitals? (see report below).
Yes nurses will know something about cleaning and their knowledge of infection and cross-contamination will help them do a better job and work more safely than someone from many other professions, but they're not trained to do it and the skills they've learned in patient care and medicine are being wasted and patients are being neglected.
Some say that it's a necessity because cuts in the cleaning budget have left gaping holes in our ability to pay the cleaners to carry out a proper clean, but this doesn't make good economic sense. Nurses are finally being paid a half-decent salary, so why are they doing a job that commands something around the National Minimum Wage? I reckon that whoever's sorting out the budets ought to go back to school!
But they're not the only ones that deserve our criticism. Some people are sadly lacking when it comes to simple common sense and negotiation skills. According to the many Internet blogs and forums I've looked at since this story broke, it has been written into some contracts that those employed by the professional cleaning contractors and facilities management companies are not responsible for cleaning 'bodily fluids' as they're called, such as vomit, urine, faeces and blood! This means that if, for example, a drowsy or drugged-up patient leaves a horrid mess in the washroom it's down to one of the ward nurses to clean it up, before moving on to tend to the needs of the next patient. This type of cleaning takes specialist knowledge and should only be carried out by those trained and qualified to do it. It should not be the nurses' job.
The press has been full of stories lately about 'health tourism', whereby people conveniently and deliberately arrive from overseas dangerously ill or about to give birth, have their treatment before those who've been waiting for ages and then disappear back home without paying the bill, leaving the NHS with an enormous deficit. I may sound a little harsh but my view is that the NHS should only treat patients that live in this country and those from overseas who pay the full cost of their treatment up front. That way there will be enough in the bank to pay for the round-the-clock professional cleaning that our hospitals need.
6th September 2012