24/11/2010

Call For More NHS Domestics

An urgent call for 200 more domestic staff in the local health service to safeguard and enhance patient safety is being made today by the trade union UNISON.

Despite the challenging economic climate and the efforts by the Stormont Health Minister and the Department of Health to address the issue, UNISON is now urging the NI Executive to look at evidence that shows that Northern Ireland needs almost 200 additional domestics to help deal with cross-infection, tackle MRSA, and fulfil the National Patient Standards for cleanliness.

The call came as the Stormont Health Minister, Michael McGimpsey praised the contribution of domestic staff in delivering excellent healthcare: "Healthcare associated infections such as C-difficile and MRSA have fallen dramatically and this has only been achieved with your help. But you don't just clean wards, you make a significant contribution in speeding up a patient's recovery," he told the domestic staff.

The Minister thanked domestic staff for their support in delivering a high quality health and social care service for the all the people in Northern Ireland.

He said: "Good quality care costs, but poor quality care costs society more in the long run. Without all of you working as part of a committed team, Health and Social Care would not function effectively."

However, ahead of today's 'Domestics in Our NHS' conference Patricia McKeown, Regional Secretary, UNISON, explained why urgent action is required: "Domestics clean hospitals and thereby help to stop infections by killing germs that have the potential to spread and endanger patient safety.

"They are low paid workers who play an invaluable role in the local National Health Service and are fundamental in meeting the National Patient Safety (NPSA) standards," she said.
News Image
"Approximately 18 months ago an independent consultancy report advising on the future strategy for the NHS highlighted that there were not enough domestics in NI hospitals and that approximately 150 to 200 more workers were required," the union leader continued, noting that UNISON has been working with a group of domestic workers in the local health service to develop a strategy for this critical service to move forward.

The conference at UNISON Centre in Belfast's York St, aims to identify the strategic issues on developing and resourcing the work of domestics in the local health service.

Speakers will include front line workers and supervisors; leading experts in the field; management and the Department of Health.

Juanita Degoma, a domestic at Knockbracken Healthcare Park, South Belfast, and a member of the UNISON Group of Domestics, added: "There is an urgent requirement for increased integration of service delivery between domestics and nurses.

"The training and opportunities for progression for domestic staff also need to be greatly enhanced.

"Domestic work should be seen as a skill sector and this means consistent and ongoing training. It is simply not good enough for new workers to shadow existing ones."

Also speaking will be Chris Everden, Managing Director of FM Specific Consultants Ltd that has been appointed by the Department of Health to independently review some of the domestic standards in sample healthcare establishments across all the Boards within Northern Ireland.

Chris said: "Domestics are a vital and essential cog in the efficient delivery of modern healthcare services.

"At present their work is not always appreciated and there is evidence to suggest that the distribution of domestic resources is not always equally distributed rationally or fairly across the services within the NHS.

"It is imperative that these anomalies are corrected for both the domestic and the patient."

(BMcC/GK)

Related Northern Ireland News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

25 January 2022
Call For Participants In World Leading Covid-19 Antiviral Drug Study
The Health Minister, Robin Swann, has called for people in Northern Ireland to take part in a world leading study on life-saving COVID-19 antiviral drugs. The PANORAMIC trial, run by the University of Oxford, is open to the over-50s, as well as adults with an underlying health condition, if they test positive for COVID-19.
24 March 2009
NI Domestic Call-Outs 'Endemic'
Police respond to a domestic call-out every 23 minutes in Northern Ireland, in what has been described as an 'endemic problem' of abuse in the home. According to a report by the Policing Board, one in four women in the province will be attacked by their partner.
11 February 2009
Domestic Violence Targeted
There has been a call for more to be done to tackle the issue of domestic violence. Members of the Northern Ireland Policing Board met this week with senior police officers and officials from the Department of Health & Social Services to discuss ongoing programmes of work to deal with both domestic violence and abuse.
25 January 2022
PSNI Announce New 2022 Digital Strategy
The PSNI is continuing to embrace new ways of working to ensure they make good use of their "precious time" and deliver the best service to the public that they can.
26 August 2015
Rise In Domestic Violence
Around one in 20 adults in Northern Ireland have experienced at least one form of domestic violence and abuse within a three year period. Reports provided by the PSNI on domestic abuse also showed that the figure of 27,628 incidents for 2013/14 was the highest level recorded since 2004/05.