Page last updated at 11:22 GMT, Monday, 2 June 2008 12:22 UK

'I still hadn't had any training'

BBC Wales reporter
Week In Week Out

The BBC undercover fiilming
We wore gloves and aprons, but a cleaner told me disinfecting the bedside chair didn't matter
I started working as a cleaner at the Royal Gwent through recruitment agency Smart Solutions.

On my first day, hospital supervisors showed me how to use the mop and buffer. They mentioned more training to clean barrier rooms; these are the isolation areas where patients with infections like Clostridium difficile are cared for.

During my research into C.difficile I discovered the bacteria create spores, which are produced by people with the infection. Proper infection control measures - such as the use of gloves and aprons - can help stop the spores being passed between patients.

At the end of my second shift at the Royal Gwent, I asked the supervisors when I would get any training in infection control. They told me that it would only take 10 minutes to say, "You just wash this with lemon gel, and wash it again with bleach".

The next day, I was asked to clean a barrier room on the children's ward. I still hadn't had any training. I also hadn't had a criminal record check, nor had my references been taken up. I could have been anyone, with any motive.

Royal Gwent Hospital
The trust said everything to improve standards of cleanliness was being done

A nurse asked an in-house cleaner and me to attend to a barrier room. But she didn't tell us exactly what we were dealing with, and I felt confused because I know different bugs require varying levels of cleaning.

We wore gloves and aprons, but a cleaner told me that disinfecting the bedside chair didn't matter. I did it anyway. Although we were told the barrier patient had used the toilet, the cleaner told me not to bother disinfecting this either. She also told me to use the same mop we had cleaned the bedroom with. I was worried about cross-infection.

During the same shift, another cleaner and I cleaned a bed space on a closed ward. She told me she thought it was blocked off to the public because of sickness and diarhhoea. Despite this, she didn't wear an apron. We visited other wards that day too, and I was concerned about what bacteria we could be carrying on our clothes.

What's more, as we were leaving the closed ward, I was shocked to see food being prepared next to a trolley full of infected linen bags. Some of them had been left open. A cleaner had already admitted she didn't fasten clinical rubbish bags either. These contain waste such used swabs and dressings.

I discovered the time needed to do the required cleaning was in short supply at the Royal Gwent. On one shift, a cleaner admitted she hadn't had time to do any mopping. On another occasion, a different cleaner hadn't scrubbed the floor of a dirt treatment room.

Dr. Grant Robinson, medical director of Gwent Health NHS Trust, says he's "disappointed" by what I found at the hospital.

He says "everything that can be done to improve standards of cleanliness is being done and will continue to be done". With regards to CRB checks, he says the Trust has reviewed its policies to make sure they're in line with national guidance.

Smart Solutions told us it had complied with the trust's requirements and would continue working with the Royal Gwent to improve the recruitment process.

Week In Week Out is on BBC One Wales on Monday at 1930 BST. There is a special Eye on Wales debate on hospital infections on Monday at 1830 BST on BBC Radio Wales

Dirty hospital practices revealed
02 Jun 08 |  South East Wales
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16 Apr 08 |  Mid Wales
Patient's dossier on 'dirty' ward
23 Oct 07 |  North West Wales


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