As GP surgeries take on more and more technical and therapeutic tasks, the need for a highly personalised cleaning regime, carefully planned, comprehensive and cost effective, has become increasingly important.
In December 2013, The Telegraph reported that the new Care Quality Commission (CQC) had carried out its first inspections and found some GP surgeries with serious failings. In one Nottingham surgery, live maggots and dead insects were discovered in a treatment room, while blood and other samples were stored in a dirty utility room.
Finding a specialist cleaning contractor for your surgery
Since April 2012 more rigorous cleaning and infection control has been part of the standards for GP and dental surgeries currently registered with the CQC. A practice must now be able to demonstrate it has the necessary processes and systems in place to meet those guidelines.
Whilst there are specific standards for dealing with emergency cleaning such as a spillage within the daily running of a practice, most routine cleaning in surgeries is currently administered by specialist cleaning contractors who should be aware and complaint with CQC guidelines.
Most cleaning contractors working within the medical arena should therefore have a detailed understanding of the National Specifications for Cleanliness in the NHS: Primary Care Medical and Dental Premises which were introduced in 2008 (later updated to meet CQC requirements). These provide GPs and dentists with a set of parameters for organising and maintaining the cleaning of their practices.
- The practice needs to be divided into high, medium, and low risk areas which are subject to different levels of cleaning.
- Staff undertaking cleaning on behalf of the contractor need to have adequate training in areas such as infection control.
- Equipment used in cleaning the practice needs to be colour-coded so as to avoid cross contamination.
- That equipment also needs to be fit for the purpose of cleaning a medical practice and needs to be maintained properly.
- The practice and contractor need to audit the cleaning provision on a regular basis to make sure it remains compliant and, above all, effective.
Gone are the days when cleaning a GP surgery was merely a case of hoovering, dusting and maybe a little more disinfectant than normal. With the arrival of the CQC standards, GPs now have to work closely with cleaning contractors to make sure all the boxes are ticked. Failure to do so can mean getting on the wrong side of the Commission and incurring a hefty fine or even having the clinic closed down.
Finding an appropriate specialist cleaner therefore becomes more problematical. Are the staff trained sufficiently? Is their equipment up to scratch? Are they using non-harmful substances in their cleaning products? Will they provide a sustainable and high quality service? Are they cost effective? What exactly is their role in the practice?
There’s no doubt that the CQC standards provide a challenge for all surgeries and that finding the right specialist contractor is not simply about looking in the yellow pages and hoping for the best.
For many practices, a contractor with a proven track record is an attractive proposition – at the very least it provides a source for getting an objective reference from other surgery’s they have dealt with. For the contractors, there is the incentive to remain up-to-date with the latest guidelines and to develop auditable protocols that satisfy the surgery needs and meet CQC standards.
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