Patient body begins hygiene push

The National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA) this week launched a campaign to encourage hospital staff to clean their hands in an effort to counter the spread of the MRSA super-bug and associated infections.

The ‘Clean Your Hands’ campaign targets NHS staff with posters and promotional materials in a bid to improve hand hygiene.

The cornerstone of the campaign will see alcohol-based hand-rubs placed next to every patient’s bed and will encourage patients to ask staff if they have washed their hands before they make any form of physical contact.

The campaign is being launched across England and Wales after a pilot campaign in six NHS trusts last year concluded that infection rates can be reduced by between ten and 50 per cent when healthcare staff regularly clean their hands.

An economic assessment of the campaign by the Department of Health estimates that if the success of the pilot is replicated nationally, 450 lives and £140m a year will be saved.

NPSA assistant director for infection control Julie Storr said: ‘We know that staff are aware they should clean their hands before and between every patient contact, but there are a mass of barriers to it happening in practice.

‘Nurses in intensive care, for example, might be required to wash their hands 40 times in any one hour.’

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