Hospital workers across the region are calling on the Government to boost numbers of NHS cleaners with cash raked in from tax evaders in tomorrow’sBudget.
They want to see the bar raised on hospital cleaning to tackle superbugs MRSA and Clostridium difficile.
Members of Unison, the country’s largest health union, are calling for a crackdown on tax evaders with a small part of the £25billion brought in used to employ 30,000 more hospital cleaners, at a cost of around £1billion a year.
They think not enough has been done to get to grips with hospital-acquired infections and the only real solution is to hire more cleaners to decontaminate wards thoroughly every day and to make sure they are all in-house and not contracted in.
It comes as whistleblower David Whitsey, a former porter hired by Healthcare Initial at Birmingham Heartlands Hospital, in Bordesley Green, claimed there were severe staff shortages of cleaners and porters, putting lives at risk, something hospital bosses denied.
He also said dead bodies were being left in wards for seven hours as there was no-one to move them and dressings from previous patients were found in beds by new occupants.
Franco Buonaguro, Unison regional head of health, said: “The Budget gives the Government an opportunity to take a long hard look at priorities and cutting the rates of MRSA and C difficile would deliver a real confidence boost to the NHS.
“I am convinced that employing more cleaners would not only save lives, pain and heartache, but also save money in the longer term.
“The Government claims there is no evidence that contract cleaning has lower standards or a worse record than in-house cleaning.
“Whilst there are direct problems associated with contract cleaning, at least as important is the effect that competitive tendering has had, and is having, on both in-house and contract services.
“Tendering forces hospitals to confront the uncomfortable dilemma of choosing between quality or cost. And the burden of savings almost always falls on staffing budgets, affecting recruitment and retention, sickness absence and ultimately the quality of service.”
He added: “Catching an infection is the issue that patients are most worried about when they go into hospital.
“In recent years, greater priority and greater resources have been given to infection control, but much of this has focused on high-profile initiatives such as hospital deep-cleans.
“Deep cleaning is all well and good but it is efficient day-to-day cleaning that will make the real difference.
“There has been genuine progress in cutting infections, but it’s time for the Government to raise the bar on hospital cleaning by employing more cleaners.”