CONCERNS have been raised about hygiene in University Hospital Limerick after a city councillor claimed there will be ‘just one cleaner’ on duty in A&E at any one time.
Cllr Maurice Quinlivan says Noonan Cleaning Services – which has just won the cleaning contract – is to make sweeping changes that will see the current staff of eight cleaners working in A&E, halved to four.
The cleaners that remain serving the unit will work four days-on, four off over 12-hour shifts, it is understood.
Cllr Quinlivan said that the plan “beggars belief”, especially as the hospital had one of the highest levels of MRSA infections in the country last year.
The Sinn Fein councillor raised concerns about how a cleaner working on such a long shift could cope.
“Everybody knows how busy the A&E department has become in recent times. How on earth is one cleaner at a time working a 12-hour shift supposed to cope in these circumstances? At a time when there are huge concerns over hospital-related infections, this makes no sense at all,” he said.
He called on hospital management and Noonan’s to “urgently rethink” any plans to cut the staff.
The new rota is expected to come into force in the near future.
While Noonan Cleaning Services did not return calls, a staff member – who did not wish to be identified – told the Leader: “Staff are not very pleased with the changeover. As far as I know, there are going to be an awful lot more changes.
“They are trying to ask the workers to do more in the same hours,” said the cleaner, who has many years service.
The worker added that it will be difficult for a cleaner to work alone in A&E as they could be called away at short notice.
“Cleaners carry bleepers, which means they can be called to any part of A&E. They could be doing one thing and there could be a spillage elsewhere,” said the worker.
An HSE spokesperson confirmed: “The service provider has proposed plans to change the current roster. Any proposal would be implemented on a trial basis to ensure that it is meeting the service delivery requirements.”
“The management of the cleaning service provider is resolute that any changes are being made to improve the level of service to the hospital.”