TWO months ago, when we first reported on a shortage of cleaners at York Hospital, health bosses insisted they were on top of the problem.
Interviews would be taking place throughout February, a spokesperson said. In the meantime, the hospital had ‘temporarily increased agency hours’ to ensure cleanliness was not affected.
Fast forward a couple of months, and the situation has got worse, not better.
In February, the hospital was reporting that it had gaps in cover amounting to 750 hours a week, equivalent to 24 vacancies. That has now increased to 950 hours a week.
The hospital insists that 17 new domestic staff have recently been recruited, and that these will be starting soon. Further staff will also be taken on.
We’re glad to hear it. But one hospital cleaner who spoke to The Press on condition of anonymity claimed that morale among domestic staff was at ‘rock bottom’, with poor wages and pressure at work leaving many to look for employment elsewhere. Areas of the hospital were becoming dirty as a result, the cleaner said.
The hospital insists it values cleaners. But the recent decision to require cleaning staff to pay for their own DBS security checks - required for anyone working with vulnerable people - seemed to suggest otherwise.
We know cash is tight. But keeping a hospital clean is an essential, basic requirement. Hospital bosses must not for a minute forget that. And they should value the staff who make it possible accordingly.