Page last updated at 00:36 GMT, Sunday, 22 March 2009

Handwashing campaign targets bugs

Hand washing
The campaign will stress the importance of handwashing

A new campaign to boost hospital hygiene is to be launched by the Scottish Government in a bid to halt the spread of hospital bugs.

The drive aims to raise awareness amongst staff, patients and visitors about the importance of regular hand-washing.

Posters will be on display throughout hospitals - including above patients' beds and in staff changing rooms.

They will also be in surgical areas, toilets and public areas.

NHS figures from earlier this year showed doctors were still falling short of a target of at least 90% compliance with hand hygiene practices.

Good hand hygiene is known to be one of the simplest but most important ways to prevent and reduce the spread of healthcare associated infections
Nicola Sturgeon
health Secretary

The national figure for nurses sticking to the routine is 95% - but for doctors it is 84%.

In January, the Scottish Government set out a strict "zero tolerance policy" for staff who fail to wash their hands.

Ahead of the campaign launch on Wednesday, Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said: "Tackling infections in hospitals is a top priority for this government to ensure that patients have confidence in the quality of care they receive if they need hospital treatment.

"Good hand hygiene is known to be one of the simplest but most important ways to prevent and reduce the spread of healthcare associated infections (HAIs).

"That is why I raised the bar for NHS boards and now expect them to take a zero tolerance approach towards non-compliance by staff with hand hygiene standards."

The Scottish Government has already introduced a number of measures to help prevent the spread the hospital infections.

New inspectorate

Earlier this month the appointment of a chief inspector of hospital hygiene was announced.

Ms Sturgeon said the newly created Care Environment Inspectorate will inspect hospitals to check standards of cleanliness and infection prevention in the fight against bugs such as MRSA and Clostridium difficile.

It will be headed by a chief inspector, to be appointed next month.

Other measures to tackle HAIs include more regular steam cleaning of hospitals and a pilot project of screening patients for MRSA before they are admitted, which is due to be rolled out later this year.

The Holyrood administration also proposes all new-build hospitals will only have single rooms to help prevent the spread of infection, and has said there will be no more privatisation of cleaning contracts.

The senior charge nurse role has been revamped, giving them responsibility for ensuring ward cleanliness and there is also a new staff uniform and dress code.



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Hospital bug action plan launched
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29 Oct 08 |  Glasgow, Lanarkshire and West
Rise in hand washing by NHS staff
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