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Cleaning up our act

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In response to growing concerns about cleanliness in UK hospitals, the Infection Control Nurses’ Association and Association of Domestic Management have developed Standards for Environmental Cleanliness in Hospitals (ICNA and ADM, 1999).


Trevithick C (2000) Cleaning up our act. Nursing Times; 96: 38, 1



Caroline Trevithick, BA (Nursing Studies), RGN, is clinical nurse specialist, infection control, Leicester General Hospital


Although infection control nurses have been concerned about levels of cleanliness in hospitals for some time, it took the recent media focus on hospital acquired infections (HAIs) to raise public awareness of the issue, bringing it to the attention of hospital managers.

In spite of repeatedly warning that dirty hospitals could lead to HAIs, many infection control teams found it difficult to halt the trend towards cost containment in the area of domestic services. This was because of a lack of research evidence to support their argument.

However, the recent Audit Commission report, The Management and Control of Hospital Acquired Infection in Acute NHS Trusts in England (National Audit Office, 2000), recommends that trusts review their arrangement for monitoring hospital hygiene, adding weight to the argument that a clean hospital is not only desirable but essential.

The Standards for Environmental Cleanliness in Hospitals offer infection control nurses, in collaboration with domestic services, a framework within which to monitor the standard of hygiene in their hospitals and the infrastructure surrounding the provision of domestic services (see p10).

They also help to establish a system by which ownership of hospital hygiene can be directed towards clinicians and managers. It is clear that a collaborative approach between infection control teams, domestic services, ward staff and managers is essential for effective implementation and to achieve an improvement in the standard of cleanliness in hospitals.


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