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'children At Risk' In Hospital Cutbacks

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PATIENTS could be put at risk by cuts to ward cleaning budgets at Sheffield Children's Hospital, staff and union representatives warned today.

The hospital, which is planning to update its ageing buildings with a new £75million extension, is trying to cut spending in every department.

Managers told workers in the domestic department they had to find savings of five per cent.

Bosses are considering cutting all agency cleaners - who staff say have been used to 'plug the gap' left by other vacancies.

To cope without agency workers the hospital is considering disbanding a 'deep cleaning' team used when there are outbreaks of infections like MRSA and C Difficile.

The six-member Ward Support Team was set up three years ago to do fortnightly 'deep cleans' in every ward in the hospital.

They also disinfect areas where there have been specific instances of airborne infections and fast-spreading bugs.

The Star understands team members will be redeployed into the general cleaning teams.

One cleaner told The Star increasing cutbacks meant she is now doing "the job of three people".

She added: "Over the last couple of years staff workers have been replaced by agency staff. These are now being removed, leaving permanent staff to pick up the pieces.

"The hospital is not getting cleaned properly and this could really put kids and the public in real jeopardy. This is all being done at the same time as we are being told that the hospital is planning on spending £75m on an extension."

She added: "I am proud to work here but the management are really putting the hospital at risk with these cuts and I feel the public really need to know."

GMB regional health officer Joan Keane said: "The Government says frontline services will not be affected by cutbacks.

"If keeping wards clean is not a frontline service then someone needs to show me what is.

"Patients could be seriously affected by this."

The annual report of Sheffield Children's NHS Foundation Trust underlined the growing financial pressures on the hospital against a need for further investment in services and buildings.

John Reid, the hospital's director of nursing and clinical operations, said the Trust was committed to maintaining its enviable record of infection control.

"The Trust has among the lowest incidence of MRSA and clostridium difficile infections in the country - that is a matter of public record," he said.

"This is no accident because one of the main reasons children come into hospital is to treat infections acquired in the community. Our staff are very focused on isolating infection, identifying it and treating it promptly.

"As part of this commitment each department has staff allocated to allow cleaning to occur as a daily routine and this has always been a top priority for the Trust.

"Matrons carry out a weekly inspection of cleanliness standards in conjunction with our infection control team and our adherence to hand washing and use of alcohol gel remains high."

To me the narrative appears to be suggesting that to fund the extension they are having to cut back elsewhere?

Can any of the medical staff who post on here say whether wards really need cleaning like this every two weeks?

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Not all wards need it, going on experience of disease incidence rates. Remember as soon as you clean a ward, the bugs come back the minute you stop, even in an operating theatre.

Cleaning after MRSA etc patients is a good idea as it lives quite happily on surfaces and can reinfect others. We used to just call the domestic supervisor who would come with one or two people and do an on the spot clean of a room or bay. This was before privatisation though, so that kind of efficiency can't be affordable now there are extra layers (the cleaning company) taking a slice of money for the service.

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I stupidly and naively thought that after the excesses of the New Labour years, the new government would dive in and get rid of the tiers of management Labour put in. The endless 50k jobs 'to create and implement policy to ensure the Trust's objectives in delivering timely and effective care to its blah blah blah puke gag'.

But no, everywhere we here of real jobs being cut and non-jobs not at threat at all.

Makes you want to weep really.

Eric Fit for nothing Pickles going around telling councils they must come up with new ways of raising revenue - like charging people who park at work.

No Eric, we want councils to charge less. Just tell them their budge is being cut 5% a year for 5 years and tell them no front line services will be cut. Give them a list of jobs that will not be cut and a list of jobs that will be cut.

Otherwise, they'll stop bin collections before a single diversity officer has lost their job.

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