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Nurses' cleaning responsibilities must be communicated clearly, says RCN

Healthcare Environment Inspectorate report concludes confusion has caused drop in standards

Guidance on the cleaning responsibilities of nursing staff and domestics must be communicated clearly and understood, the RCN has said.

A report on hospital cleanliness in Scotland by the Healthcare Environment Inspectorate, published today, found there is confusion about who is responsible for cleaning.

Inspectors found unclean patient equipment, including contaminated trolley beds.

RCN Scotland director Theresa Fyffe said: ‘As our nursing and overall NHS staff workforce is increasingly stretched to meet the demands of their jobs, it is more likely that aspects of cleaning will fall through the gaps. It is imperative that clear guidance on the roles and responsibilities of nursing and cleaning staff is implemented and communicated effectively.’

She added that senior charge nurses must have the authority to ensure equipment is fit for patient use and the ward is clean.

‘We are hearing too many stories of senior charge nurses being under pressure to "make do and mend" because of a lack of money, people and authority to make their wards and equipment as safe and clean as possible.’

The RCN and the Associate of Healthcare Cleaning Professionals has produced guidance on the roles of nurses and cleaners called Creating a Safe Environment for Care. The document says there should be time dedicated to cleaning and that nursing staff should clean and tidy up as they work.

To read the HEI report, click here

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