The NHS on the Isle of Wight has issued a renewed plea for help in the battle against potentially lethal bugs.
Revised guidance “Clean Hands Saves Lives” issued by the National patient Safety Agency (NPSA) this week highlights the need for all health staff to clean their hands at the point of care and ensure that alcohol gel is used as well as hand washing if a patient has experienced vomiting or diarrhoea.
Carol Alstrom, Chief Nurse and Director of Infection Prevention and Control said, “Healthcare Acquired Infections are a top priority for us. Our aim is to eliminate avoidable infections such as MRSA and C.difficile completely, a zero tolerance approach, and we already have the measures set out in the guidance in place.
“We take hand hygiene seriously. Every ward at St Mary’s Hospital has a hand hygiene champion who has been specially trained to teach hygiene techniques and oversee hand cleaning and the Infection Control Team carry out regular hand hygiene audits in all inpatient wards to ensure that hygiene standards remain high.
“We are doing well with only six cases of MRSA throughout 2007/08 and one so far this year. However, we also had some serious outbreaks last winter, including a C.difficile problem which claimed the lives of five patients.
“We need visitors as well as staff to help us fight infection. It is important if they are coming to the hospital to follow hand hygiene advice and use the alcohol gel stations around the hospital, and at the entrance to every ward. Most of important of all, they should stay away if they have been ill with vomiting or diarrhoea within the past two days or have been in close contact with someone who has.”
Janet Tait, Infection Control Nurse Specialist said, “Following our ‘Clean Your Hands’ campaign launch in 2005, we have continued to work hard to reduce infections. Alcohol hand rubs are at each inpatient bed space and we continue to encourage patients to challenge staff on their hand hygiene by reminding them of the cleanyourhands maxim, “it’s OK to ask!”
Local organisations remain responsible for making sure health staff comply with hand hygiene procedures and the NPSA will review how the alert has been put in place in April 2009.