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by Matt Trinder
THERE were almost 1,000 fewer NHS cleaners in 2019-20 compared with 2010-11, according to NHS Digital figures issued today.
Including both directly employed and outsourced workers, the full-time equivalent of almost 1,000 NHS cleaners have been cut in the last decade in England, the figures show.
The amount spent by NHS trusts on cleaning services — essential to fighting the Covid pandemic — fell by £38 million in real terms, a decline of 3.4 per cent.
Research also suggests that the risk of catching the superbug MRSA may be 50 per cent higher in wards where cleaning services have been outsourced, with the GMB union warning that staff are under pressure to complete jobs too quickly.
GMB national officer Rachel Harrison said: “The NHS couldn’t function without its cleaning staff.
“They have been saving lives, often at real personal risk, since day one of the pandemic.
“Our members tell us that they are overworked, underpaid, and denied access to the right PPE [personal protective equipment].
"Some cleaning workers are put under pressure to complete jobs without enough time or the right equipment.
“These new figures confirm that a scandalous £38 million has been taken out of NHS cleaning budgets in real terms, while hundreds of NHS cleaners have lost their jobs.
“These cuts weakened the NHS and meant that services were vulnerable when the coronavirus pandemic hit.
“As we enter a third lockdown, it is more important than ever that NHS cleaners receive the resources, pay, and decent employment standards that they deserve.”
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