In an exposé by Daily Telegraph journalist, Sarah Crawford, she claims that ‘cleaners have blamed job cuts at hospitals for the filthy emergency waiting areas exposed in a Daily Telegraph hygiene audit’. She also claims that Health Minister Jillian Skinner said it was up to staff, patients and visitors to make sure they ‘slather themselves with the sanitising solutions dotted throughout hospitals to stave off infections,’ states the 30 October article.
According to Crawford, the Daily Telegraph conducted 30 hygiene tests at 15 hospitals and discovered 66 percent of surfaces swabbed failed to meet hospitality industry standards, let alone hospital standards.
‘Three areas swabbed even contained unhygienic levels of the hospital bug staphylococcus’ revealed the audit.
‘Figures from the Health Services Union reveal most of the 139 cleaning jobs lost in the past four years were at the hospitals that failed all of the hygiene tests’ but Crawford claims that Skinner accused the HSU of ‘reckless scaremongering’ over their claims the cutbacks could cause an infection outbreak.
“Improving hand hygiene among doctors, in particular, and other health care workers is currently the single most effective intervention to reduce the risk of hospital-acquired infections in NSW hospitals,” said Skinner. But what about cleaning for infection control?
According to Crawford, ‘the greatest cutback in cleaners was 67 workers at Royal North Shore hospital, which joined Mt Druitt, Campbelltown, Nepean, Liverpool, Westmead, Fairfield and Blacktown hospitals in failing the hygiene test of toilet doors’.
‘Another 45 cleaners were cut from Westmead and Nepean hospitals where all surfaces tested failed, including seats in the emergency waiting area.
‘Campbelltown Hospital, where 15 cleaning positions have been cut, failed both hygiene tests and recorded an elevated level of staph on a toilet door. Royal Prince Alfred, which failed a hygiene test on an emergency waiting area, seat lost 10 staff’.
The article reports that HSU state secretary Gerard Hayes said the hygiene test results should be a wake-up call for the Baird government.