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Last Updated: Friday, 26 October 2007, 13:18 GMT 14:18 UK
Hospital deep clean 'a gimmick'
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Hand washing is thought to be the best way to tackle MRSA
The Conservatives have attacked the government over plans to "deep clean" English hospitals after ministers said it would not be centrally monitored.

The Tories said it was the "worst kind of government by gimmick" after it emerged local health authorities would be overseeing the ward-by-ward clean.

The government said it expected to see results from the 50m scheme, which was announced last month by Gordon Brown.

It accused the Tories of trying to "spin" the issue of hospital bugs.

In an article for the News of the World during Labour's party conference, Mr Brown pledged that hospitals in England would be cleaned "a ward at a time, walls, ceilings, fittings and ventilation shafts will be disinfected and scrubbed clean".

We expect continued improvements as a result of the deep cleans and the many other measures we are taking
Alan Johnson
Health secretary

But in a Commons written reply, junior minister Ann Keen said there were "no plans to centrally monitor the deep cleaning of hospitals", or "the effectiveness of deep cleaning".

Health Secretary Alan Johnson added: "In common with all other measures in our hospitals, we will administer and monitor the deep clean programme through the strategic health authorities in 10 areas across England."

He added: "We will continue to monitor hospital cleanliness and infection rates regularly and we expect continued improvements as a result of the deep cleans and the many other measures we are taking."

Poll lead

But shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley said the admission showed it was "just a Brown gimmick".

"The government have been forced to admit that they had no evidence to demonstrate how it should be applied, they have no plans for how it should be implemented, they don't know how much it will cost, and they have no plans to find out whether or not it works," he said.

Lord Darzi, the minister in charge of reviewing health care, told MPs on Thursday that poor leadership within the NHS was to blame for hospital superbugs. He said there was some evidence deep cleans worked, but added: "It's a public confidence builder".

The government says the deep clean initiative is just one of several approaches NHS trusts were taking to combat the spread of infections.

Ms Keen told GMTV the Conservatives were trying to "do some spin on this" adding: "What has been said is that every hospital will have a deep clean and the monitoring of that deep clean will take place locally and be managed by the strategic health authority. We are going to do that."

It comes as a YouGov poll for the Daily Telegraph suggests the Conservatives are enjoying their highest level of support for 15 years.

Its survey of 2,105 voters across Great Britain, taken on 22-24 October found 41% would vote Conservative in a general election, with Labour on 38% and the Lib Dems on 11%.

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