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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 September 2007, 17:01 GMT 18:01 UK
NHS cleaners 'can do little more'
MRSA: One target of the 'deep clean' ordered by the prime minister
Cleanliness in hospitals and eradicating "superbugs" are now key priorities and all hospitals will undergo a "deep clean", Prime Minister Gordon Brown has said.

A ward housekeeper with 14 years experience in the NHS tells how she feels the burden of responsibility, but says cleaners can do little more to make hospitals safer.

Instead of saying what it is that needs to be done, the government should ask the people on the ground - more well-trained cleaners in general is what we need.

I work for 6.33 an hour - more pay would obviously be nice, but I'm not complaining.

I have an excellent relationship with the matron and the other medical staff - we all work very hard to keep the standard of cleanliness high. I've never had any patients or their families complain to me about dirt in the hospital.

I've seen nothing to suggest hospitals are less clean now
Ward housekeeper

When newspapers make disparaging remarks, or blame us for causing MRSA, we do feel the pressure and it does get to the staff. They don't know what it's like in hospitals - staff are well-trained and work really hard in the job they do.

We need qualifications to clean in hospitals - we need NVQs and a certificate from the British Institute of Cleaning.

When the hospital has a patient with something like MRSA, they are generally kept in a separate room, which we clean every day using bleach.

Then, when the patient gets better and moves to another ward, we thoroughly clean out the room - even the curtains get taken down and washed.

Since I started working for the NHS 14 years ago, there have been a lot of improvements. I've seen nothing to suggest hospitals are less clean now.

But if Mr Brown or Mr Johnson wants to sit down with us and ask what we need, we would tell them - more staff to cover holidays and breaks because too many of us are working too hard to keep the standard up.

The ward housekeeper, who did not want to be named, also acts as a representative for the trade union Unison.


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