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Healthcare cleaning chief calls for national training & qualifications for cleaners in NHS hospitals
The Association of Healthcare Cleaning Professionals' National Chair Denise Foster is calling for the introduction of nationally recognised qualifications and training standards for all NHS cleaning staff. Currently no vocational qualifications are required to work as a cleaner in the NHS and many hospital cleaners start work with little knowledge or understanding of the complex processes involved.
In a keynote speech delivered at the AHCP national conference yesterday, Denise said: "As things stand at present, despite the many well publicised cases - such as Mid-Staffordshire - and the huge advances in the sophistication and complexity of the tools and processes available for maintaining cleanliness and hygiene in hospitals, it remains the case that anyone can be recruited as a healthcare cleaner without the need for any training in the increasingly complex protocols and processes involved.
"I now want to go further than I have before and lay down a challenge to our members, to the NHS, and to the Government. It is my view that no one should be able to work in healthcare cleaning without first achieving some level of basic professional qualification. Only by introducing minimum standards of training and knowledge of infection prevention and hygiene control, will the objective of driving up standards of cleanliness in our hospitals, clinics and care homes be achieved."
Members of AHCP are responsible for cleaning and disinfecting high technology equipment in the NHS worth millions of pounds in operating theatres and other healthcare settings, often with critically ill patients close by. The protocols and equipment used bear little relation to cleaning processes used domestically and in offices and industry.
The comments come as AHCP seeks to revamp its own continuing education, training & development programmes to drive up skill levels in the sector and encourage more young people to choose healthcare cleaning as a career. One of AHCP's key objectives is to see the introduction of a nationally recognised qualification in professional healthcare cleaning.
The Association argues that the absence of this is a reflection of a culture that fails to fully recognise and reward professional healthcare cleaning for the critically important role it plays in keeping hospitals clean and free from infection. It says that professional training should be available at colleges and universities and no one should be able to work in a hospital without first gaining appropriate vocational training and qualifications. Without investment in training and the setting up of a national qualification, AHCP believes that NHS and government efforts to clean up hospitals will continue to fall short of expectations.
The AHCP is the professional association for healthcare cleaning in the UK and Ireland. Members are directly involved in managing and delivering cleaning and hygiene services in most NHS, state funded and independent hospitals. Members also hold key roles in community hospitals, clinics and residential care and nursing homes provided by the public, charitable and independent sectors.
The AHCP develops and maintains the healthcare cleaning standards and protocols used by NHS and most other hospitals to deliver cleaner, safer healthcare environments. Members have access to a range of support services including a detailed knowledge database, an online helpdesk forum, website, newsletter, the AHCP Voice magazine and an extensive programme of professional education, training & development.
The AHCP's annual national conference & exhibition is the UK's largest annual healthcare cleaning and hygiene event. With over 450 members and 50 corporate sponsors AHCP says it is the largest and most influential professional association for healthcare cleaning in the UK and Ireland.
Membership is open to all organisations and individuals with a professional interest in improving quality and standards in healthcare cleaning and hygiene.
13th June 2013