Queen of clean Lynsey Crombie joins NHSPS staff for the day

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During the coronavirus pandemic, the Clap For Our Carer’s campaign of Thursday night applause rippled around the nation. The movement encouraged Britons to stand outside their homes and clap at 8pm for NHS workers. While many may have cast their mind to doctors and nurses, how many may have held cleaners in mind during the weekly applause?

Cleaning expert Lynsey Crombie, known to her followers and ITV viewers as “The Queen of Clean”, met with NHS cleaners, who are a part of the NHS Property Services, which owns 10 percent of the NHS estate.

The NHS Property Services (NHSPS) is a provider of over 3,000 non-clinical frontline staff, including cleaners, porters, receptionists, and caterers, all essential parts of the National Health Service.

She spoke with Express.co.uk about the experience.

She described the heartbreaking response of cleaners to the pandemic, which has taken a toll on the UK’s health service.

“One said to me, ‘I’m just a cleaner’,” the influencer said.

“And I said, ‘You’re not just a cleaner, without you turning that bed down before the next patient comes on, people couldn’t work so you’re not. You’re just as important, and a very valued member of the NHS.’

“They do feel so worthless, it was really sad to hear.”

Lynsey learned how the cleaners’ roles had changed during the pandemic while meeting six cleaners.

She explained the extent of the PPE, the long hours the cleaners are working, and their above-and-beyond attitude.

“As you know the NHS is spotless anyway, so in terms of that cleaning and cleaning techniques, those have not really changed much because they’ve got the colour-coded cleaning system.

“But, it was the PPE, having the plastic aprons on wearing the plastic shoe covers at one point,” she described.

“They were doing their job well, but they were overdoing their job. They would scrub down the room that they needed to but they were doing it again to make sure it was thorough.”

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Lynsey went on: “They were very good at communicating. If one cleaner touched her trolley, then that was hers, and no one else can touch it.

“In the past, if someone had gone in with a broken arm, the cleaner wouldn’t necessarily have been in afterward sterilising the room before the next patient, which is what they’re up against now. If anyone sat in that chair, the chair needs to be cleaned and disinfected, but they did seem to take it in their stride which was quite nice.”

The crucial workers aren’t even able to have basic refreshments.

“Before the pandemic, they would have been allowed a bottle of water for walking around. That wasn’t allowed anymore.”

Lynsey described the cleaner’s gruelling hours too and said: “Their hours are pretty tough as well. I spoke to one clear who goes in at 4 am in the morning, working till 9 am and going home. Then they come back at 6 pm and do it all again. I’ve been a cleaner in my time, but I’ve never been under that pressure.

“I spoke to six people, one gentleman, and five ladies. One was so lovely to me, she said ‘I use all your lemon tricks.’ She had so much passion for her job.

“It was just lovely to see that they actually really care about the role that they’ve got in the NHS.

“The people who are working in the NHS as cleaners, they enjoy it. They want to be doing it.”

Lynsey found on cleaner’s story especially touching. “The gentleman who was there, he was a single dad with a son, and he was his carer. The hours allowed him to work and care for his son.

“He is passionate about cleaning because his son needs to be in quite a sterile environment.”

The Queen of Clean also met a number of reception staff, a blast from the past for the cleaner who once worked on reception for the NHS herself.

“I met with the ladies on reception and it was really interesting to find out how their job role has developed since COVID,” she said.

“They’ve got a screen up. They’ve got their masks on. They can’t even share a pen. You’ve got elderly people coming in that are sort of hard of hearing, and they’re literally shouting at them. So, their job is something much more intense than it was pre-COVID.

“You know, years ago, I worked on reception for the NHS and the abuse you get.

“People come in they shout at you, they demand information, they don’t leave until they’ve got it. It’s a really, really tough position. Imagine doing that job in the thick of COVID, when people are panicking and they’re worried they’ve got symptoms.

“Just imagine the stress they would have been under.

“I spoke to one of the ladies, she was just hilarious, she had so much personality. She was infectious. I can imagine going into the surgery, feeling a bit like s*** being and greeted by her would just lift your spirits.

“When you go into the hospital and you don’t feel well, that reception person is the one that’s breaking down those boundaries, making you feel like there is a place for you there.”

Speaking on the intense cleaning regulations, even behind reception, Lynsey said: “Desk sharing has gone completely.

“As soon as they’ve answered the phone they have to disinfect the phone with wipes straight away.”

The Queen of Clean made a passionate plea for pay rises across the NHS, not just for medical professionals.

She said: “You know, the nurses and the doctors, are wanting pay rise which is completely understandable, but come on, everybody that worked in the NHS and put themselves on that frontline in the pandemic deserves the same treatment.

“Without these people, the NHS could not carry on. The doctors can’t go in that surgery if it’s not clean. You know, these people are the heart of the NHS.”

The former pro cleaner expressed her concerns about hygiene practises slipping among the general public as restrictions as done away with.

“Before the pandemic, I’ve always done what everyone is doing now, using hand sanitiser and wipes, so from my perspective, I actually felt better, because all of a sudden I felt normal.

“When I see other people doing it now it just makes me think yes, people are taking hygiene much more seriously. I just hope that it does continue because I think it’s important.

“This virus isn’t going anywhere, and we just need to keep vigilant, it’s not just about a mask. Cleaning is just as important as a face mask.

“And I think people’s attitudes change, although I had a conversation when I was on This Morning the other day, people aren’t carrying hand sanitizer as much as they were and that that worries me a little bit because I think we’re just relying too much on the face mask.

“People aren’t wearing them that much anymore. I went on a train last I was the only person with a face mask on and on trains, it’s filthy anyway.”

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