Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.


Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Clinicians should face hand hygiene sanctions, say Scottish Tories


Health workers who fail to meet standards on hand-washing should be subject to disciplinary procedures, the Scottish Tories have said.

According to Conservative deputy leader and health spokesman Jackson Carlaw, “stronger action” is needed, as new NHS figures suggest that one in 10 doctors fail to meet hand hygiene standards.

“We need to consider the possibility of disciplinary action against doctors and anyone else who continually fails to meet hand hygiene standards,” he said.

The latest hand hygiene audit within the NHS, which was carried out in May, shows that the overall compliance rate with standards in Scotland is 96%.

But the compliance rate among doctors continues to lag behind that of other health workers, with hand hygiene standards being met by 90% of medical staff, 98% of nurses and 97% of allied health professionals who include radiographers, podiatrists and physiotherapists.

Mr Carlaw criticised doctors’ performance on hand-washing, saying: “It is a real problem that the very people who are supposed to be setting an example on wards are failing so spectacularly to do so. You could understand, in a wide-ranging observation, for a handful of people to occasionally fall below standards. But for 10% of hospitals’ best paid and most senior staff to be failing this crucial measure is absolutely alarming.

“Hospitals have learned lessons on hygiene the hard way in recent years. We know how costly infections like MRSA, C diff (Clostridium difficile), norovirus and even seasonal flu can be.

“So the fact the message is still not getting through means stronger action has to be taken, because this has been a problem for some time.”

A Scottish government spokeswoman said: “Good hand hygiene is recognised as one of the most effective ways of preventing the spread of infections such as Clostridium difficile and MRSA in our hospitals.

“National hand hygiene compliance by NHS staff remains consistently high at 96% but there is no room for complacency. All NHS chief executives should continue to encourage a culture of zero tolerance by all NHS staff towards non-hand hygiene compliance.”


Are you able to Speak out Safely?

Sign our petition to put pressure on your trust to support an open and transparent NHS


Readers' comments (3)

  • Given the challenges faced by NHS staff on a daily basis, this is the best that a Scottish Tory, a very rare breed indeed, can come up with? Bloody clown.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Tories are more of a risk to patients with their predilection for cuts...

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • just heard on radio but unfortunately didn't catch reference to UK study on handwashing

    women wash their hands more frequently than men

    men don't like being told by women what to do

    could this be related to difficulties in nurses getting doctors to wash their hands?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.

Related Jobs