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New Measures To Tackle UK Hospital Bugs

Armen Hareyan's picture

UK Hospital Bugs

Health Secretary Alan Johnson outlined a package of measures to help reduce healthcare associated infections in hospitals including new responsibilities for matrons, new guidance on clothing and the isolation of patients who are infected.

Alan Johnson said:

"I'm determined that patient safety, including cleanliness, should be the first priority of every NHS organisation. Across the NHS we continue to bring the number of MRSA cases down and make progress on measures to reduce C.difficile. Today's package of measures will give more responsibility to matrons and set guidelines on clothing that will help ensure thorough hand washing and prevent the spread of infections. This is a clear signal to patients that doctors, nurses, and other clinical staff are taking their safety seriously."

Further options that may be needed to tackle healthcare associated infections will be examined in Lord Darzi's interim report into the future of the NHS, due to be published in October. The announcement comes as the Government carries out one of the biggest public engagement exercises in NHS history on the issues that matter to staff, patients and the public.

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The new package includes the following measures:

1. Matrons and clinical directors will report quarterly directly to trust boards on infection control and cleanliness. These reports will focus on compliance with statutory obligations and will increase the ability of senior clinical staff to raise concerns over infection control with trust boards directly.

2. New guidance on clothing will mean that hospitals will adopt a new "bare below the elbows" dress code i.e. short sleeves, no wrist watch, no jewellery and allied to this the avoidance of ties when carrying out clinical activity. The traditional doctors' white coat will not be allowed. The new clothing guidance will ensure good hand and wrist washing.

3. New clinical guidance to increase the use of isolation for those patients who are infected with MRSA or Clostridium difficile. Although the best trusts will already be meeting this standard, for the majority of trusts this will mean greater use of single rooms, cohort nursing and better management of isolated patients.

4. The National Patient Safety Agency will extend its sccessful cleanyourhands campaign to care settings outside hospitals. The campaign, designed to improve hand hygiene among healthcare workers in order to combat healthcare associated infections, will be rolled out to primary care, ambulance, mental health and care trusts as well as to care homes and hospices.

5. A new legal requirement will be placed on all chief executives to report all MRSA bacteraemias and C. difficile infections to the Health Protection Agency. It will be backed up by fines for non compliance - failure to report will be an offence.

This package follows the announcement in July from Alan Johnson of an extra