22 May 2009
From December 2007 until March 2008, the government ran a project to ‘deep clean’ all the hospitals in England. The initiative formed part of a range of measures to further improve cleanliness and help reduce healthcare acquired infections, such as MRSA and Clostridium Difficile in the NHS.
Nationally, it was a one-off project, but Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust has gone one better and has decided to keep a deep clean team which works full time across Epsom and St Helier hospitals.
And the work is paying off. According to the Care Quality Commission's Inpatient Survey 2008 (published 12 May), 93 per cent of the Trust's patients said their room or ward was very/fairly clean. The Trust also passed an unannounced 'spot check' by the health watchdog in December last year.
Paul Haslett is the Trust's cleaning manager. He said: "We're committed to making sure that our patients are treated in a clean and welcoming environment. It's an important issue to our patients and we're delighted that they have given us such encouraging feedback."
The Trust's deep clean programme aims to:
clean areas that are ordinarily difficult to clean or might not get picked up on a day-to-day basis, e.g. behind radiators;
create sufficient time to clean thoroughly without distraction or disruption, such as visiting times or meals;
replace or repair equipment which it isn't possible to clean, such as pulleys for light switches;
ensure that standards achieved are maintained after cleaning;
cause minimal disruption to patients.
Paul continued: "Deep cleaning involves more than just day-to-day cleaning. For example, we remove radiators, replace curtains and steam clean patients' arm chairs, lockers and beds. We also clean vents, grills, ceiling lights and fans. It is a really thorough cleaning."
The deep clean team is made up of two hands-on supervisors, two cleaners and a handyman. They have special bright yellow uniforms and also put up dedicated signs when an area is having a 'deep clean'.
The team visited the outpatients department at Queen Mary's Hospital for Children recently and sister Christine Renvoize praised their attention to detail: "They moved all the large furniture out to clean behind it, and they cleaned the furniture at the same time – they really did do an excellent job."
Jas Weir is a member of Sutton LINk (Local Involvement Network). He said: "Patient groups have appreciated that the recent deep clean exercise is a welcome effort to improve cleanliness and contribute to infection control."
Over the past year, the Trust has spent £300,000 deep cleaning its hospitals, in addition to the cleaning teams which work continuously throughout the hospitals.