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NHS hygiene campaign cut hospital MRSA case numbers

An NHS hygiene campaign has helped reduce cases of MRSA in hospitals, researchers have found.

The Cleanyourhands campaign was introduced seven years ago among England and Wales’ NHS trusts after concerns were raised over hand hygiene and MRSA levels.

Researchers at the Royal Free Campus, University College London Medical School and the Health Protection Agency found that in the years since 2007, MRSA infections have fallen from 1.88 to 0.91 cases per 10,000 bed days.

The team also found that hospitals were using more soap and hand rubs during the period, collectively reaching 59.8ml per patient bed day - triple the previous figure.

The campaign worked to boost awareness of hand hygiene, requiring there to be hand rub at each hospital bedside. It also rolled out posters to keep the issue current and offered feedback to trusts on their progress.

The paper said: “The study suggests that national infection control interventions, including a hand hygiene campaign, undertaken in the context of a high profile political drive, can successfully reduce selected healthcare associated infections.”

Louise Teare, chair of the Hand Hygiene Alliance – a group including infection control nurses, doctors and patient representatives – welcomed the findings.

But she called on the Department of Health to follow up the cleanyourhands campaign with a “clear national strategy to drive further improvements in hand hygiene”.

Dr Teare said: “The campaign was discontinued in December 2010.  We know, however, from the field of public health, that sustainability of any behaviour change programme requires continued activity, research and engagement.”

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