Industry leader calls on Government to lead targeted hand hygiene campaign

A letter from former British Cleaning Council (BCC) Chairman Jim Melvin calling for the Government to take action on hand hygiene has been printed in The Times.

In the letter, Jim Melvin, who is Master of BCC member The Worshipful Company of Environmental Cleaners (WCEC), noted the ‘absence of any true Government plan to cope with a resurgence of Covid-19 or prepare for future pandemics’ and called for additional steps to be taken immediately.

He wrote: “One would be for the Government to lead a ‘targeted hygiene’ campaign to support the owners and operators of public spaces to implement measures that help the public to practise simple and effective hand hygiene.

“By helping to suppress the spread of disease, this would reduce pressure on health services, maintain productivity and increase the public’s still fragile confidence in using public transport and public places.”

There were examples of major events where these measures had been successfully implemented, he wrote in the letter, which was published on 15 January, adding that there was a ‘moral imperative’ to quickly take ‘proven actions’.

The BCC and 21 industry associations have been calling for the Government to adopt the recommendations in the Embedding Effective Hygiene for a Resilient UK report since last year.

Delia Cannings, Chair of the BCC, said: “I am delighted to see that Jim is helping keep the important issue of hygiene in the spotlight.

“Improved hand hygiene is important nationally but only one of a series of essential measures that we believe the Government should take.

“We want the Government to put cleaning and hygiene at the heart of the national agenda and adopt in full the recommendations in the Embedding Effective Hygiene for a Resilient UK report.

“Taking these steps will ensure that the lessons of the Covid 19 pandemic are learnt and the public’s health is protected in future.”

Sector staff have been asked to contact their MP in support of the campaign. To find out how to get involved, please visit https://britishcleaningcouncil.org/2023/02/06/download-letter-here or scan the QR code.

The Embedding Effective Hygiene for a Resilient UK report was compiled by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Cleaning and Hygiene Industry. It made 11 key recommendations, summarised below:

  • The establishment of a joint Government-industry preparedness team to plan for public health emergencies.
  • Minimum levels of cleaning materials and equipment to be agreed and made available in readiness.
  • Thought to be given to how to increase production during a public health emergency.
  • Key frontline worker status must be bestowed upon cleaning operatives and staff working in supply and manufacturing if a pandemic happens.
  • Urgent consideration to be given to making cleaning staff eligible for the Skilled Worker Visa scheme.
  • Minimum standards for hygiene infrastructure and cleaning in diverse venues to be agreed.
  • A standard qualification for cleaning to be developed within the Apprenticeship Levy.
  • Training budgets for cleaning operatives should be adequate.
  • Government communications around hygiene in times of pandemic should be clear, consistent, sustained, timely, relevant and specific.
  • The Government should use behavioural science-based communication campaigns to promote hygienic behaviour to the public.
  • The Government should support the cleaning and hygiene industry in realigning perceptions of the industry.
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