Nurses washing wards at Mid Yorkshire Hospital Trust

15th April 2010'Health Secretary Andy Burnham Visits the New Pinderfields hospital development today.'Pictured: The New Hospital.'PICTURES: Matthew Page

15th April 2010'Health Secretary Andy Burnham Visits the New Pinderfields hospital development today.'Pictured: The New Hospital.'PICTURES: Matthew Page

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BUDGET cuts could be leading to a lack of cleaning at the trust which runs Pinderfields Hospital, it is feared.

A report found that nurses were washing wards in place of cleaning staff because of a funding shortage at Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust and not enough time was spent cleaning after patients were 
discharged.

The report was ordered after the trust missed a target to cut hospital infections.

Nursing union the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has called for an urgent meeting with trust bosses.

Peta Clark, RCN operations manager for Yorkshire and Humber, said: “Nursing staff are already overstretched and should not be taken away from delivering direct patient care.

“Reports of trusts not being able to hire cleaners owing to financial constraints are extremely worrying. We will be seeking an urgent meeting with Mid Yorkshire to discuss this further.”

At Dewsbury Hospital, nurses were cleaning ward areas when they were not trained to do so because there was “not sufficient funding to provide a 24-7 cleaning service”, the report said.

And at Pinderfields and Pontefract Hospitals, not enough time was spent cleaning after patients were discharged.

Dewsbury Hospital is cleaned by NHS staff but at Pinderfields and Pontefract, cleaners are employed by Balfour Beatty, the company which built the hospitals under a Private Finance Agreement (PFI).

The report said: “Even within the current specification with your PFI provider, the time allocated for a post-discharge clean appears to be less than the 45 minutes that is generally regarded as necessary for an effective clean.”

Mid Yorkshire said all its sites had 24-7 cleaning but at a lower level on evenings.

PFI cleaners were closely monitored and the trust was confident they were meeting the right standards. At times of increased demand, members of nursing teams and ward housekeepers did some cleaning to make sure patients were not left waiting for a bed.

A trust spokesman said: “This may occur in the evening or overnight and is necessary to ensure that the trust can admit patients requiring emergency admission.

“The trust is committed to providing hygienic bed spaces and reducing healthcare associated infection rates. We are pleased to report that our infection rates so far this year are equal to, or better than the targets for reduction.”