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Making healthcare cleaning a qualified success

02 December 2013

According to www.cleanleanhealthcare.org 79% of people who took part in its recent survey thought that cleaning professionals employed in the healthcare sector should have the relevant qualifications to undertake their work.

This finding adds extra impetus and backing to calls from Denise Foster, outgoing chair of the Association of Healthcare Cleaning Professionals (AHCP), that the NHS should have its own professional qualifications for cleaning.

We all know how important a clean and hygienic working environment is to employee well-being, but it is even more essential in healthcare environments. Good hygiene, ranging from thorough hand washing by healthcare workers, right through to the deep cleaning of wards, is something we rightly expect from our hospitals. Whether you are a patient or a visitor, a clean and welcoming environment will help speed your recovery, and make your stay a more pleasant experience. Any lapse in service provision is widely reported in the media, and with the winter flu season now here, coupled with the threat of norovirus or MRSA outbreaks, it’s never been more important to ensure that cleaning reaches the highest standards.

Whilst rates of MRSA in hospitals have fallen significantly in recent years, some 6.4% of hospital patients in England still acquire some form of infection during their stay, according to the Health Protection Agency (HPA) survey carried out in a selection of hospitals across England in 2011. This shows a fall down from 8.2 per cent in 2006 but the report says that around 20-40% of healthcare-acquired infections (HCAI) are preventable. 

Following this survey, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), in partnership with HPA, produced guidance for the prevention and control of HCAIs. One of the recommendations was for regular cleaning to prevent the build-up of organisms and that there be: "Evidence of regular, appropriate training and education of staff with responsibility for cleaning in the use of equipment, disinfection and decontamination.”

Cleaning in healthcare environments is a crucial part of infection control, so investing in training and qualifications makes a great deal of sense. A hospital is like a small city, with many different areas and functions. While specialist deep cleaning will be needed in surgical wards and treatment rooms, different cleaning methods will be required in offices, reception or canteen areas.

WAMITAB offers level 1, 2 and 3 qualifications in cleaning covering areas such as cleaning skills, using manual and electrical equipment, working independently and as part of a team, and health and safety as well as supervisory skills. Assessments range from on the job observations and assignments through to exams or presentations. Bespoke advice is also available for specific sectors, such as healthcare, to provide the information on relevant training, qualifications and providers that is needed.

We applaud the work of AHCP and Skills for Health, the Sector Skills Council for all health employers, who are doing so much to raise standards. WAMITAB hopes to contribute by playing our part in improving the provision of qualifications and training to this crucial sector.   

Written by Chris James, CEO of WAMITAB