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Last Updated: Friday, 26 October 2007, 09:21 GMT 10:21 UK
Bug trust hospitals 'cleaning up'
Maidstone Hospital
A ward was shut at Maidstone Hospital this week due to Norovirus
The interim chairman of a health trust criticised over fatal outbreaks of clostridium difficile has said quality of care and cleanliness is improving.

George Jenkins was appointed acting chairman of the Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust after the previous chairman and chief executive resigned.

On Friday, a nurse at Maidstone Hospital told BBC Radio Kent that staff were "crestfallen" and morale was low.

"They're just heads down, do the job as quick as you can and...go," she said.

The health trust was the subject of a damning report by the Healthcare Commission over its errors in handling two outbreaks of the deadly C.difficile superbug at its three hospitals.

We have been given additional funds... to improve our cleaning
George Jenkins, Maidstone & Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust

At least 90 patients died between 2004 and 2006, caused by a "litany" of errors in infection control, the report said.

On Wednesday, Maidstone Hospital shut one of its wards to new admissions after 16 patients displayed symptoms of the sickness and diarrhoea Norovirus.

The nurse, who wishes to remain anonymous, said cleaners at Maidstone Hospital did not "have the time, the manpower, even the morale", and the area she worked in was not up to standard.

"I've had many conversations with the cleaner and I'm more than happy to help her to make my room as clean as I want it to be... she does the floors and I do every other inch of it myself."

She added that people were not being trained to do the job properly, and that she would not wish to be a patient at the present moment.

Mr Jenkins, who was appointed acting chairman of the trust on Tuesday, said he understood staff were frustrated.

'Strong leadership'

"These are people that want to do a good job, and at the moment they believe they are under persecution [from the press and the media]."

He said procedures were in place allowing staff to raise concerns with senior management, and to contact him directly.

"My role in this is to actually assess and rejuvenate and restructure our board so that we can give the leadership and provide the resource to take this organisation forward.

"Let's not forget that over the last year those people who've recently been damned in the report have been working their socks off, and I actually believe, and based on evidence that I've seen over the last two days, the quality of care is improving, the quality of cleanliness is improving," he said.

"We have been given additional funds directly from the strategic health authority to improve our cleaning.

"What that has enabled us to do is to focus our cleaners and give them more time in clinical areas, and we have brought in contractors to look at the public areas."

Mr Jenkins pledged staff would benefit from strong leadership and encouragement.

"Part of my job is to make sure that we can give them the facility to deliver the best possible care to the public."



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