Cleaning staff at Royal Preston Hospital among the unsung heroes of the Covid pandemic

Armed with little more than cloths, aprons and detergents it is the cleaning staff who are helping to keep Covid at bay in our hospitals.

As the government confirmed plans to lift all covid restrictions, including an end to self isolation, from Thursday 23 March, I spent the day with some of the domestic teams at the Royal Preston Hospital.

Domestic teams admit it was a 'terrifying' experience working on the Covid wards

It is their job to keep staff and patients safe and they've never been as busy. The NHS trust has had almost 10% of staff off sick due to the pandemic, that's around 600 staff.

As we filmed there were still just over 60 patients being treated on their Covid wards, a third haven't been vaccinated.

The domestic staff are often the first people to enter a room after Covid-19 has been detected and they need to give it a deep clean for the next patient.

Domestic teams at Royal Preston Hospital cleaning a bay after Covid has been detected

The staff admitted it was a frightening experience at the height of the pandemic.

"Actually I was terrified at the beginning, it was really scary," said one cleaner.

"It was very frightening, especially when we have young children at home and elderly family as well."

Covid cleaning teams are often the first to be exposed to the virus

Beata Zygmunt joined as a cleaner at the start of the pandemic and says team work is vital to keep each other safe.

"We have to support each other, I can't for example check my colleague, that they are doing the job and keeping us safe, I have to trust the team here."

Peter Nargj almost died as a result of Covid and bitterly regrets not having the coronavirus vaccines initially .

Peter Nargj almost died from covid just before Christmas and bitterly regrets not having the vaccine and putting others at risk

"It would all have been so different if I'd have taken my vaccines," he said.

The domestic teams need to clean the ambulances after every drop off

Every time a patient arrives - it takes a minimum of seven minutes to clean the ambulance.

With the easing of Covid restrictions medics warn the virus still hasn't gone away  - and key workers are still exposing themselves to risk.

Professor Munavvar says the domestic staff are often the first people to enter a room after covid's been detected

Professor Mohammed Munavvar, Consultant Respiratory Physician says we can't underestimate the role of the cleaning staff in helping to combat Covid-19.

"They were there day in day out and every time they went to the bay they were exposing themselves to covid there was no escape for them just like the nurses and everyone else on the team," he said.

The domestic teams say Covid has brought them a new found respect.

There is still no let up for those working around the clock, whose jobs are more important than ever.