29 March 2019 | Herpreet Kaur Grewal
Hospitals contracting out cleaning services had lower levels of cleanliness and worse healthcare outcomes as measured by hospital-acquired infections, reveals research published in an academic journal.
In an article in Public Administration Review, published by Wiley Periodicals, the researchers conclude that "private providers are cheaper but dirtier than their in-house counterparts".
The academics used data from 2010/11 and 2013/14 for 130 National Health Service trusts in the study.
The article warns that public service managers must be "very careful when outsourcing services - even auxiliary services; some performance indicators should reflect aspects of the quality of the core service".
The researchers also note that "health and social care commissioners placed hospital-acquired infection control at the top of the NHS agenda to reinforce safe clinical practices and ensure better patient outcomes", but that their research focused "on hospital-associated infections (MRSA rate) as an objective measurement of patient health outcomes that are closely related to the cleaning (auxiliary service)".
They found that "contracted-out cleaning services are, all else being equal, cheaper than in-house cleaning" but add that the research also found "that hospitals that have contracted-out cleaning also have lower cleaning quality".