Northern Irish trust tells office-based nurses to clean their own workspace

Union Unite says the directive may aim to save money but is ‘absurd’

Union Unite says the directive may aim to save money but is ‘absurd’

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A health trust in Northern Ireland has been criticised after asking office-based staff – including some nurses – to take on vacuuming and dusting duties to keep their workspaces tidy.

Following a review of cleaning services, domestic staff at Northern Health and Social Care Trust will continue to clean toilets, kitchens, public areas such as meeting rooms, and clinical areas. 

Mop and vacuum

But in a memo seen by the BBC, office-based staff will, along with fulfilling their regular duties, be required to mop floors and remember to place their bins outside their office door to be emptied. They will also be given basic cleaning equipment such as vacuum cleaners. 

Staff have been reminded to use a step stool that is provided when cleaning shelves above head height.

Sacrificing ‘valuable time’

Unite regional officer Kevin McAdam told Nursing Standard: ‘While Unite understands the trust will retain cleaners in clinical areas, it simply ignores the large number of community nurses, health visitors, school nurses, pathology staff and many others who provide a clinical service from an office-based environment.

‘It is absurd that they should give that valuable time to replace other workers in a bid to save money.’

The trust delivers services from 150 facilities including two general hospital sites, a mental health hospital, local community hospitals, health centres, social services and a network of community services.

Cleaning versus nursing

Queen’s Nursing Institute chief executive Crystal Oldman said: ‘I am astonished to hear this and can only think that it is a misunderstanding.

‘I do not believe that nursing teams would ever be expected by their employer to clean their offices in place of delivering a highly skilled nursing service to the community they serve.’

Promoting health and well-being

A spokesperson for the trust said: ‘We focus on cleaning staff washrooms, kitchens and public areas including meeting rooms. We have, however, asked staff to keep their office spaces clean and tidy, and have made available some basic equipment.

‘We remain mindful of the need to promote and protect the health and well-being of everyone who uses our premises.’

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