HEU calls for monitoring of hospital cleaning audits by Auditor General

News release

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B.C.’s auditor general should oversee the development and implementation of a province-wide audit of cleanliness standards in hospitals and long-term care facilities, says the Hospital Employees’ Union.

The union says independent oversight of the company chosen by health authorities to do this work is needed in order to separate the controversy surrounding privatized hospital cleaning from pre-election politics.

B.C.’s six health authorities today announced that Vancouver-based Westech Systems Inc. will develop and implement a province-wide health care cleaning audit.

“It took the Campbell Liberals more than two years to acknowledge the need to systematically monitor the results of privatization,” says HEU acting secretary-business manager Zorica Bosancic.

“And they only acted in response to a series of media reports that raised concerns about the state of hospital cleanliness and infection control standards.”

Last December, health care unions issued a report that sounded the alarm about hospital cleaning standards in the St. Paul’s Hospital emergency department. The report identified problems with the measuring tool used by the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority’s to audit the performance of its private cleaning contractor.

For example, it gave the same scoring weight to a dirty IV pole in an emergency room as it did to a dusty window sill in a waiting room.

Bosancic says housekeeping audit tools need to be developed in an open and transparent manner and include in-depth consultation with front-line health care workers.

“This province-wide audit must address the reasons behind problems with hospital cleanliness like inadequate staffing levels, heavy workloads, insufficient training, poor communication and lack of on-site supervision,” says Bosancic.