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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 July 2005, 10:40 GMT 11:40 UK
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Your comments on "Undercover hospital cleaner", first broadcast on Wednesday 13 July 2005 at 19:00 BST.

The views expressed on these pages are not necessarily the views of the BBC. The e-mails published will be reflective of the balance of opinion received.


I am disgusted with the reports shown on your programme, not only with the unacceptable levels of hygeine but lack of basic knowledge from all levels of staff including, nursing staff. My wife spent four days in hospital in Florida at beginning of the year and during her stay I was impressed with the levels of cleanliness from everybody in the hospital.

Every person who entered her room used hand cleaner, gloves and aprons no matter what they were going to do and dispenesed with the garments before leaving the room.There was never any occasion when this safe practice was not complied with. Shame on the Health Service in the UK and shame on the individuals who carry out these shoddy practices and with their superiors who are failing the UK public.
Gordon Kidd, Prestwick, South Ayrshire, Scotland

I think it is scary how dirty some hospitals are and seeing the first one I am appalled!
Kirsty, Andover Hampshire

How, how true. I spent ten days in an isolation room last year. Everyone had to wear masks, aprons and gloves. Everyone that is except the cleaners, who just breezed in and out without a care in the world. Fortunately I didn't have what I was suspected of having, else there would have been many deaths at that hospital.
Christopher Hill, London, UK

The ignorance of both cleaning and medical staff disgusted me
Lesley Johnson
As an ex-nurse and midwife I have just watched with a degree of amazement and frustrated anger your undercover report on Initial hospital cleaning. The ignorance of both cleaning and medical staff disgusted me. I now realise that the drop in hospital-acquired MRSA is probably wholly due to the growing awareness of patients and their families of what to do to protect themselves against infection if they need to go into hospital.
Lesley Johnson, Sunderland, Tyne and Wear

Having just finished watching your report on hospital cleaning I have to say I am shocked at the complete disregard for hygiene displayed. I am mostly surprised at the lack shown by the 'nurses' in the film more so than the cleaning staff. This is a disgrace, and the government should be taking action immediately. Next week's programme looks far more disturbing.
David Watt, Motherwell, Scotland

Hospital cleaners should be employed by the individual ward/department, not contracted out. If a cleaner was dedicated to a particular area then closer monitoring can take place. Also, the cleaner would take more pride in their work. This is how wards were looked after in the 1970s. Cleaners felt part of the ward team.
B Wade, Faversham, Kent

As a deputy charge nurse I feel that this programme shows the worst of the NHS. It is true that if you pay peanuts then you will get monkeys. However, as it was pointed out, cleaners are part of the health team and it should be the responsibility of the ward sisters to ensure that all staff including cleaners maintain correct hygiene procedures and chase up any problems.
Karl, Colchester

Prevention of the spread of MRSA and other infectious diseases in our hospitals should be the number one priority of our NHS management
Simon Edwards
Prevention of the spread of MRSA and other infectious diseases in our hospitals should be the number one priority of our NHS management. And I am sure it is. But this urgency is clearly not getting through to the workers on the front line. As a qualified engineer in the manufacturing industry, I am familiar with the problems associated with getting a workforce to undertake correct practices whilst meeting targets. Unfortunately, these staff are not being managed correctly at all. They need strong superiors who are not afraid to make sure they are doing their jobs correctly. Less management and more leadership is required in our NHS.
Simon Edwards, Woking, Surrey

No great surprises, was disgusted by the attitudes of the staff. I am a dentist and our practice treats cross-infection control very seriously. It takes time, but that's the only way to do it properly. Unfortunately a lot of employees who have responsibility for cross-infection control are poorly educated, poorly paid, poorly trained and motivated. Is it any wonder?
Claire Warren, Glasgow, Scotland

l have worked in a hospital as a hostess. The cleaners there had to make cleaning equipment last because they were allocated not enough. There were not enough mops or cloths to go around.
Sharon Scrase, Brighton, England

Your investigation into hospital cleanliness was enlightening. However I am wondering when hospitals are going to realise that contracting out the cleaning leaves them in this vulnerable position. Private companies put profit first - their contracts are designed to make money this is understandable however the shortcuts they take demonstrate the risk these hospitals take.

My grandmother used to clean for our local hospital she was employed by the hospital, trained by the hospital and only had one or two wards to cover. The ward was mopped and swept twice a day. In addition the bedding was put in large laundry baskets - nurses where not allowed to drop it on the floor. The laundry was also cleaned on site - the hospital had its own laundry. I have to say that the sheets then looked much cleaner than they do now! The fresh hospital bedding that I have seen has had one or two stains on it that the wash cycle has obviously not removed.

I understand that the Hospital Trusts have funding issues but surely it is important to get the basics right first otherwise what is the point in treating patients for one illness only for them to die from another? Incidentally my grandfather caught MRSA when he was in the hospital - the same hospital that my grandma used to clean some years before!
Karen Cooper, Wakefield, West Yorkshire

The whole problem is that the cleaners are an essential part of the health service and are paid the minimum wage
Sarah Nicolson
No offense but the whole problem is that the cleaners are an essential part of the health service and are paid the minimum wage, with no sick pay and have an impossible workload to fit in. The fact that they are under-staffed makes it worse as you are expected to cover for the vacancies in the same time with no overtime and you are also quizzed at to why you use so much cleaning equiptment, The whole problem is that the private cleaning contracts are a scam used to pay poor wages and do the work at the lowest possible cost. Good cleaners still only get 4.55 per hour with no thanks, constant criticisim and complaints - ask your self would you do the job?

Give the cleaners a decent wage and enough time & resources to do the job & then you'll get people who feel appreciated & valued and the work will be done properly.
Sarah Nicolson, Scotland

I am glad this topic is being kept in the public eye. Although the subject is very relevant to me on a personal level, i am still shocked that people don't even know what MRSA is and am as shocked to hear of MSSA being talked of as 'not so bad' .The government may have made some changes but obviously from your footage not enough. I am amazed and scared by the enormity of the problem and don't understand why extreme measures aren't taken to get rid of it.

Why isn't everyone in the country swobbed before they go into hospital? Why are visitor numbers not rigidly enforced? Why isn't bed linen washed at the required temperature? Why don't doctors still wash their hands between patients? I personally don't think the issue of hospital acquired infections will be seriously tackled until more children and babies start dying - and unfortunately they will. Thank you, your reporter was excellent.
Julie Whitehouse-Jones, Wellington, Shropshire

The shortcomings of contract cleaning were of no surprise. But where were the ward sisters? Were they not aware of what goes on? Or were they in their offices completing the vast amount of paperwork and target chasing with which their life is bedevilled?
Dr EJ Barnett, Mold, Wales

As a nurse working in an hospital, I underline the need of appreciation to the cleaners. Start with giving better wages and more time to do their job. Second is the appreciation for their job. The fact a nurse is talking about 'immunity' a big insult for this profession.

Everything starts with appreciating the job you are making your money with. for yourself and from others.
Jore van der Burg, Utercht, The Netherlands

Watching the programme tonight revealed more to me about the failure of contract-driven services to deliver their hollow promises, and the impotence of the stratified management style, whereby the one truly accountable person delegates responsibilty through a chain of progressively worse paid, overworked and apathetic staff.

We are surely entering a new phase in the area of employment liability whereby the phrase 'we provided full training' just doesn't cut it anymore.
Scott Pawsey, Birmingham England

Basic hygiene should be a drill and not a rather blurred picture
Jo Bond
The burden falls upon those that are on the front line - cleaners in this instance are named and shamed but I cast my eye to seeing what lies behind the scenes, to those who make the decisions on time and resources which are obviously flawed. The documentary only serves to again place blame on to individuals rather than seeing and focusing on the larger picture. Basic hygiene should be a drill and not a rather blurred picture. It seems to me that a ward needs their cleaners to feel part of the team and a contracted service is far from this model.
Jo Bond, Cambridge

WhenI worked in the NHS as a secretary I used to say good morning to the cleaner who was always there first thing cleaning the window sills. She told me once that I was the only one to greet her, the Trust chairman and chief executive often walked past her by and never once greeted her. The cleaners wages are appalling the work load too, how can they take a pride in their work if they have to cover so much ground.
Carol Smith, St Neots, England

What a disgrace, and still at the end of the programme the chief executive was grasping for excuses. There is only one way to ensure that areas are kept hygenic and safe. That is for the ward cleaner to become a valued member of the ward team under the direction of the ward sister/charge nurse as used to happen. Do away with these profiteering and useless companies. As far as the ignorance and lack of knowledge of the nursing staff as to the importance of infection prevention, well, words fail me. Disgraceful, shameful, is the very least I can think of. These nurses should try to remember that it could be them or a loved one needing the care, and they should be thouroughly ashamed.
William Murray, Dawlish, Devon

It is not an excuse for NHS cleaners not to do their job properly, but when you only have so long to clean each room or department and not enough staff, how can you expect them to comply with all the rules. Maybe if the company employing them were to give a decent living wage, then more people might want to join the company, which in the long run would alleviate the work load and give the cleaners more time to comply with the rules.
Jean Roberts, Sleaford, Lincs

My husband is a very good cleaner at another Birmingham hospital. However, although he adheres to the correct training, it is often the doctors who do not wash their hands inbetween patients. There are some cleaners who do not do a proper job, but don't tar them all with the same brush! Being an ex-microbiologist it seems people need to be re-educated on the subject of MRSA. Some patients believe they can catch it off a dirty wall and others think it is a virus. Hand washing is the key - so don't just blame the cleaners - they deserve more respect than they are given.
R Kerr, Birmingham, UK




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