Healthy living

One extra cleaner in hospital wards cuts MRSA

Zone default image Targeted cleaning cut infection rates by 25%

One extra cleaner on hospital wards can cut the number of people being infected by MRSA by a quarter, and save the NHS money in the process, new research has found.

The research, sponsored by Unison and published in the journal BMC Medicine, found that one extra cleaner on a ward using targeted cleaning methods caused a reduction in the number of new MRSA cases and saved the hospital between £30,000 -70,000 by using ordinary detergent.

If replicated in every ward in every hospital, many lives and millions of pounds would be saved, they said.

The union sponsored microbiologist Dr. Stephanie Dancer to carry out in-depth research into the super-bug MRSA and hospital cleaning.

Dr Dancer’s research investigated the effect of targeted cleaning around specific areas close to patient beds, such as lockers, trays, buzzers, curtains and the beds themselves, using common detergent rather than more expensive antiseptics, chemicals and bleaches.

The results showed that targeted cleaning caused a a 32.5% reduction in microbial contamination at hand-touch sites. New MRSA cases fell by 26.6% in the 6 months of targeted cleaning on the ward with the extra cleaner.

However, they rose again when the cleaner was moved to a different ward, which in turn saw the number of cases fall.

Dr. Dancer from the Southern General Hospital Glasgow, where the research was carried out, said: “It is very tempting to look for easy ways to clean a hospital ward. Look at all the wonderful ideas out there.... bug buster dusters, clean air machines, kill-all disinfectants and gases, electrostatic wall tiles, copper toilets, silver pyjamas and self-clean computers, for example.

"Whilst such things are innovative and interesting, we should not forget that basic hospital cleaning with detergent and water is the first line of defence against hospital infections. Cleaning is hard work, and complicated work, and the gadgets, gimmicks and gizmos cannot, and should not, replace a hospital cleaner".

This article was published on Tue 3 November 2009

Image © © blue eye -

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