A STAFFING crisis among cleaners at York Hospital has worsened - with managers working to fill a shortfall of more than 900 hours a week.
A hospital vacancy bulletin for the last month shows it is seeking to fill 950 hours a week in staffing gaps across the hospital, with the situation appearing to have deteriorated from earlier in the year when gaps in staffing amounted to 750 hours a week.
The hospital said it is working to address the shortage and has taken on new staff with a recruitment drive underway.
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One member of the cleaning team, who asked not to be named, said the morale among the domestic staff was at “rock bottom” and that a lack of cleaners meant they had seen bin bags piled up and bodily fluids left on the floor.
Poor wages and pressure on hospital cleaners is driving many to look for new work, it has been claimed.
They said: “We have not had any living wage increases since 2014 so people are looking for new jobs.
“Domestics are not in one area, they are being moved around, and they are not cleaning it in the way they should do. They put their heart into the job and want to leave it clean for the patients but aren’t able to because of the lack of resources.”
Cleaners have said problems are being exacerbated by background checks on staff taking months to complete, which mean applicants seek other jobs.
They said that as the hospital has stopped paying the Living Wage of £8.45 an hour, hourly rates are now only 40p above the minimum wage, which is £7.50 an hour.
A spokesperson for York Hospital said: “A certain level of vacancies is normal in any organisation, and some roles have higher turnover rates than others.
“The vacancy position as it stands today is fairly static compared against last year, although we have recently recruited seventeen new domestics who will be starting soon. We expect to recruit to the remaining vacancies in the near future.
“We have a number of initiatives and on-going recruitment campaigns underway; including a presentation at Jobcentre Plus, on Tuesday 25 April, between 11.15am to 11.45am, where potential candidates will be interviewed in the afternoon. If people are interested they can contact the Trust or their local JobCentre.
“Domestics play an important role in supporting patient care and maintaining high standards of cleanliness. We look forward to welcoming new staff to our current team of domestics.”
Terry Cunliffe, of Unite the union, said he was not aware of the wards being visibly unclean but he said some deterioration in standards was inevitable given how stretched the staff were.
He said: “If you have a shortage of staff either everyone has to work longer or harder or the standards diminish and that’s just a matter of fact.
“Our members want to serve the public and will do their best.”
Mr Cunliffe said he had met with hospital representatives and had been assured that senior managers were doing all they could to recruit staff.