Tony Sullivan, our external services decontamination manager, offers his advice to primary care settings on the National Standards of Healthcare Cleanliness 2021
I’ve spoken to a lot of practice managers in the last few weeks who are worried about the update to the Standards. Like everyone in the NHS, primary care settings work under tight time constraints with a lot of paperwork backing up everything they do. These new Standards are being seen by many as yet another thing to worry about, but I don’t think that’s how these should be viewed.
Yes, the Standards want to see a robust cleaning specification or work schedule. But I’ve seen hundreds of these in my time working for NTH Solutions going into care homes and other places during the pandemic, and the vast majority of them are good, successful plans that staff understand and adhere to. If you’re a practice manager for a GP surgery, you’ll be aware of your cleaning spec – just take a look at it and check it is fit for purpose. Are you addressing the needs of each room? Have you listed everything that needs to be cleaned, and how often it should be cleaned? Are all of your staff aware of the document, and is there shared responsibility between staff groups for the cleanliness of your site? This can be as simple as your receptionist replenishing the sanitiser at your front desk, or your nursing staff wiping down touchpoints between patients.
Any policy you have should be reviewed annually, and your cleaning specification is no different. We’ve all fallen into that trap of becoming complacent and leaving documents to age when the truth is they could do with a shake-up, or a couple of revisions. These new Standards are a chance to do that – and the beauty of it is, once your cleaning specification is compliant, it opens the door to every other requirement of the Standards. If you’re starting from a solid foundation, the rest becomes much simpler.
In the wake of this terrible pandemic, we should all be giving our cleanliness practices an MOT, frankly. I believe the updated Standards of Healthcare Cleanliness have been released at least in part as a response to the pandemic, and I think they are an excellent opportunity for everyone in healthcare to level up their procedures when it comes to cleanliness. Our Compliance service has been launched to offer help for primary care in seizing this opportunity – we come to your site for a visit and we build you a compliant cleaning specification. It’s as simple as that, if you want it to be. Yes, we can also submit your documentation, and yes, we can also run your audits for you, but if all you need is a cleaning spec to help you get ahead of the game, then that’s what we can provide. We’re not a regulator, and we’re not here to sit in judgement on anyone working in primary care, quite the opposite. What we want is to offer that helping hand to anyone who is feeling understandably overwhelmed after the last couple of years.
The real message is this: get your cleaning specification sorted. Once this is up to scratch, everything else starts to fall into place. And if you need any help, get in touch. We’re here to help.