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Scottish CNO launches campaign to improve handwashing

Rates of norovirus and flu could be reduced with better hand hygiene, Scotland’s chief nursing officer has said – as the Scottish government launches a handwashing campaign.  

Over this winter, there have been 35 deaths from flu and it is estimated that every year up to one quarter of the population may be affected by an episode of norovirus.

To coincide with Global Hand Hygiene Day on 5 May, Scotland’s CNO Ros Moore and chief medical officer Sir Harry Burns are urging people to follow a few simple steps to help reduce the spread of infections.

Recent statistics show that 95% of NHS staff comply with hand hygiene guidelines, and it has played a part in helping to reduce the number of healthcare-associated infections in hospitals.

Latest figures show that rates of Clostridium difficile in people over 65 have fallen by over 82% since 2007 and MRSA has reduced by 79% over the same period.

Ms Moore said: “Washing your hands with soap and warm water is the single most important thing you can do to help reduce the spread of infections and help protect you, your family and those around you.

“Parents should also encourage their children to wash their hands by showing them how to do it, to help ensure this becomes a lifelong habit.

“It takes at least 15 seconds to wash your hands properly – try singing ‘Happy Birthday’ twice through as a rough guide for how long it should take,” she added.

Readers' comments (1)

  • The hand washing campaign was actually launched in Scotland 4 years ago and has been ongoing. Interesting to note that the compliance rate (for hand washing within hospitals) for nurses was 95% in 2009, whereas with medical doctors and other health workers, it was in the low 80s% and in the public (patients and visitors), it was much worse.

    The compliance rates for nurses have remained largely the same and the compliance rates for doctors, health professionals and the public have improved. Ironic then that, for years, nurses were the focus of blame for HAIs. Another instance of nurses not adequately representing themselves or taking the lead on public health issues.

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