UK nurses forced to scrub hospital wards because cleaners axed in cost-cutting move

(Mirror News) Nurses at a cash-strapped hospital trust are being used to wash wards after bosses cut back on cleaners.

And infections have soared amid claims they cannot do a proper job because it means depriving patients of care for too long.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has come under pressure to launch an investigation into the revelations at the Mid-Yorkshire Hospitals trust, which is expected to end the year £26million in the red.

Cleaners at its three hospitals don’t work on two days a week because of the Tory-led Coalition’s cuts in public spending.

It means highly-skilled nurses have to scrub the wards.

Shadow health minister Jamie Reed said: “Over 4,000 nursing posts have been axed since the ­election and now over-stretched nurses are filling in for a lack of cleaning staff with patients left paying the price.”

The Labour MP wrote to Mr Lansley demanding an immediate probe.

And last night, unions called for an urgent meeting with trust bosses over the scandal.

Janet Davies, of the Royal College of Nursing, said: “Nursing staff are already over-stretched and should not be taken away from patient care.

“Reports of trusts not being able to hire cleaners owing to financial constraints are worrying.”

The trust, with hospitals in ­Wakefield, Dewsbury and Pontefract, said it could not hire staff as there was “not ­sufficient funding to provide 24/7 cleaning”.

Former ­government inspector Brian Duerden found nurses cleaning wards when he was called in after the trust missed its acquired-infection target.

He said: “Pressure on beds pushes staff to clean quickly and staff believe bed areas are not cleaned thoroughly.

“Nurse staffing is already ‘tight’ so taking them away to clean must impact on their time for patient care.”

A trust spokeswoman last night admitted nurses “assist with bed space cleaning following the discharge of a patient”.

But she added: “This may occur in the evening or overnight and is to ensure the trust can admit emergency admissions.”

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