Patients have an "absolute right" to expect clean and tidy hospitals, according to the head of operations at the Healthcare Commission.
Responding to the commission's report which found that two thirds of hospitals were failing to meet hygiene targets, Simon Gillespie has called for immediate action to tackle the problem and said there is no reason for low levels of cleanliness.
Speaking to Sky News, Mr Gillespie said that ensuring high standards was vital in providing an adequate health service and that the elderly were most at risk from poor hygiene.
"If you go to a hospital, as a patient or as a visitor, or indeed as a member of staff, you expect that the environment there would be clean," he commented.
"We are working on an assessment scale that is provided to all hospitals, both independent and NHS, by the department of health, and these are the rules that should be in place at all times."
However, Mr Gillespie did add that the majority of mental health hospitals were found to be "clean and efficient" in both the NHS and independent sector.