Published: 05/12/2002, Volume112 No. 5834 Page 9

Ninety-five per cent of patients polled in a survey on behalf of catering and cleaning company Sodexho and the Patients Association believe hospital cleaners are efficient. But almost half of patients do not think hospitals are clean.

Of the respondents, 95 per cent described cleaners as 'friendly, polite, cheerful and efficient'. Yet when patients were asked if general hospital areas were very clean, only 55 per cent said 'yes'.

The survey, described as 'surprisingly positive' by Patients Association chief executive Mike Stone, also found that 80 per cent of patients said hospital food 'met or exceeded' expectations. Yet between 45-65 per cent said it arrived 'at the wrong temperature'.

Mr Stone said: 'I think it would be unfair to say that patients are happy with everything. When I first read the results I was surprised how positive it was, but these are the things people are telling us.'

A Sodexho spokesperson said that the survey question on hospital cleaners was about the patients' perception of their services. 'When they talk about efficiency It is all about the overall perception of them - friendly, polite and efficient. The question on cleanliness was not related.'

The survey of over 2,000 patients in England, whose average age was 60, found that most patients wanted traditional British food, a comfortable bed, a daily newspaper and regular visits from a sweet trolley.

Patient Experience Survey 2002 . Sodexho, Kenley House, Kenley Lane, Kenley, Surrey CR8 5ED.£120.