Skip to main content

Hospitals: Cleaning Services

Volume 464: debated on Tuesday 16 October 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the evidential basis is for the policy of deep cleaning NHS wards, as stated in his Department's press release of 25 September 2007, entitled Johnson crackdown on cleanliness and infections; what methodology was used to estimate the cost of deep cleaning at £50 million; which organisations will undertake the evaluation of the first programme of deep cleaning, and at what cost to the public purse; whether the deep cleaning of NHS wards will be mandatory for all NHS organisations which operate wards; when he expects the deep cleaning of NHS wards to happen; and if he will make a statement. (156805)

The Government consider that high standards of cleanliness should be provided by the national health service.

A higher score on the annual Patient Environment Action Team assessments is significantly correlated with lower rates of Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Clostridium difficile, although this is unlikely to be a direct relationship. Links between infection and cleanliness vary according to the specific micro-organism involved, and high standards of hygiene are likely to have a greater effect on Clostridium difficile rates, for instance, than on MRSA.

Even for those micro-organisms where the environment has less impact, it is still important that hospitals are kept clean. Patients consistently rate cleanliness as one of their highest priorities for the NHS.

The figure of £50 million is an indicative amount. The final amount will depend on the needs of each hospital, which will inevitably vary. Strategic health authorities (SHAs) will work with their primary care trusts to commission deep cleaning at a locally-agreed cost, and to monitor total spend in their areas. Performance management and evaluation will also be carried out locally.

The deep cleaning programme is an important part of our work in relation to health care associated infections, and will therefore be targeted towards acute trusts. However, all hospitals should be clean, and SHAs have the discretion to include other hospitals, including mental health and learning disability units.

Deep cleaning is time consuming and can be disruptive. Dependent on the approach taken, it may be necessary to close wards or bays. For most trusts, this will take months, rather than weeks. We expect that the majority of activity will be complete by year-end.