More cleaners urgently need to be employed in hospitals, Unison said today after revelations that nurses and other staff have to regularly step in and clean wards.
A Nursing Times survey showed that nurses and health assistants are being forced to clean toilets and mop floors on top of their patient care duties.
It also found that more than half of the 1,000 NHS nurses and health assistants surveyed believed cleaning services for their ward were inadequate. Around a fifth admitted that their hospital trust had made cuts to cleaning services in the last year.
Some even reported cleaning corridors, computers, nursing stations and offices.
Unison's head of nursing Gail Adams said: "Hospital cleaners work incredibly hard day in, day out, to keep our hospitals clean and safe. But the basic fact is that in some wards there are not enough of them to provide a decent level of service.
Ms Adams criticised the last Tory government for outsourcing hospital cleaning to the lowest bidder which saw it "pared to the bone" as the number of hospital acquired infections rose.
"Cleaners are fundamental to infection control - boosting their numbers would help to save the NHS millions by cutting the number of hospital acquired infections."
Most of the nurses and health assistants surveyed said they had not received training for these additional cleaning requirements.
Royal College of Nursing adviser Rose Gallagher said: "This is not about saying nurses are too posh to wash. Cleaning in hospitals is not the same as cleaning your own home."
A Department of Health spokeswoman said: "Hospitals have a duty to provide a clean and safe environment for patients and they should do everything they can to ensure that nurses can spend as much time involved in patient care as possible."
It said NHS spending on cleaning was £937.9 million in 2010/11 - an increase of £40.7m from the previous financial year.