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NHS reforms must not hinder infection control progress

Fragmentation and restructuring of NHS services could harm progress in infection prevention and control, the Royal College of Nursing and Infection Prevention Society have warned.

In a joint briefing paper, the two organisations raised concerns about the impact of recent changes in commissioning, performance management and regulation. NHS restructuring has led to the loss of some specialist infection control nurses posts, they said.

The recent changes to the NHS have made infection control more challenging, with specialist nursing staff being transferred from primary care trusts to a variety of organisations or having their posts cut altogether, the two organisations warned.

The paper also highlighted inconsistencies in approaches to infection control between different national organisations. For example, NHS England has said it expects of a significant ongoing reduction in Clostridium difficile incidence, while the health sector regulator Monitor has set foundation trusts a limit of 12 cases a year.

The paper calls for NHS England to review how it monitors performance on infection prevention and control among clinical commissioning groups and its 27 local area teams.

It also said CCG boards must ensure they have infection control leads in place to review current provision and access to specialist support and advice.

IPS president Julie Storr said: “All organisations responsible for the commissioning and delivery of health care services need to maintain a focus on the

Julie_StorrJulie Storr

effectiveness of their infection prevention and control strategies and be confident that they can assure these are being met.

“The health service landscape is complex right now and this document aims to support identification of risks and improvements,” she added.

Rose Gallagher, the RCN’s infection control adviser, said: “It is vital that infection prevention and control remains a priority for the government and everyone

Rose Gallagher

Rose Gallagher

involved in the provision of care.

“Anyone involved in commissioning or scrutiny of healthcare needs to read this document as it will allow them to go back and ask important questions about how and where infection prevention specialist advice is provided as a central element of safe care,” she said.

 

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