Cleaning queens for Ealing 'comedy'

It had the potential to generate 'Ealing comedy' style headlines, but Ealing Hospitals trust chief executive Fiona Wise says she is pretty happy with her gamble to allow TV cleaning queens Kim and Aggie onto her wards.

The duo spent almost a year at Ealing Hospital and the results went out last night in a one-hour special on Channel 4, When Kim and Aggie Went to Hospital.

As befits tabloid TV, the body fluid count was high - plenty of blood, vomit and excreta flowing from the drunk and incapable. At one stage Kim poked a toilet brush with her impressive two-inch white fingernails and concluded. 'See that? That's dried faeces.' Well, what did she expect, organic muesli?

They also brought their own perspective on the seemingly insurmountable problem of getting patients, staff and visitors to use the handwash on entering and leaving wards.

But the duo's idea of decorating the dispenser with flashing red lights was vetoed. As was the idea of getting rid of toilet brushes - apparently NHS by-laws dictate that every toilet must have one.

But a hidden camera revealed that visitors did take heed of bright red plastic welcome mats saying 'now clean your hands'. So much so that Ms Wise told HSJa proper NHS specification batch of said mats is now being designed.

Ms Wise says staff wanted to have their say after being upset about the way an undercover report on Channel 4's Dispatchescriticised the hospital's cleaning standards. They were keen to 'demonstrate the complexities of keeping a hospital clean and the fact that the responsibility lies with all of us: staff, visitors and patients'.

Last night's programme also focused on MRSA, and you could feel the tension building when Aggie pronounced that whatever a soiled bed frame in an isolation room was harbouring, it was 'not just a bit of dust. That's e.coli, salmonella or whatever'.

But independent boffins pronounced the hospital MRSA-free and said in terms of other bugs like staphylococcus aureas it was 'within the normal range of a busy hospital'.

So was Ms Wise happy? 'The programme showed the things we have got wrong. Yellow waste bags lying around, some problems with cleaning, and myself being harangued by a patient. But overall it was OK.'

Mark Gould