A cleaning supervisor at an Auckland hospital was sacked for failing to ensure critical areas, including operating theatres, were properly cleaned.

Pooja Patel had been employed by OCS to ensure the company's cleaners were meeting the standards required by its contract with the Auckland District Health Board.

But she was dismissed for serious misconduct in March last year because of concerns that critical areas at a hospital were not being cleaned properly.

Ms Patel raised a personal grievance before the Employment Relations Authority, which dismissed the case. She then appealed to the Employment Court, which has also dismissed the case.


The court was told OCS's concerns about the standard of cleaning during Ms Patel's supervising shifts were sparked by quality assessment audits by ADHB. Among the concerns was that Ms Patel was failing to make sure staff focused on critical areas, such as operating theatres, over non-critical areas, such as lifts and stairwells.

Ms Patel worked the night shift, between 3.30pm and midnight, six days a week. During that time, one cleaner was meant to be assigned to an operating theatre for the entirety of the shift.

However, the court was told that in January last year, she assigned one cleaner to an operating theatre, as well as radiology.

The operating theatre failed a quality assessment audit the next day.

At a disciplinary meeting, Ms Patel claimed she was stretched in terms of staff resources, and took on cleaning duties herself that night.

However, the company had previously made it clear that critical areas were to be given priority over non-critical areas, and that one staff member was needed to clean a theatre.

In her decision, Judge Christina Inglis said Ms Patel had been reluctant to accept there had been issues that were the subject of ongoing discussions with the company.

In a statement, Auckland DHB said it had taken control of cleaning. "To ensure high standards are met and maintained, as of last week our cleaning staff transferred to direct employment."