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Online learning

Free-to-access online CPD on key principles of infection control

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Healthcare-associated infections can have devastating consequences for patients and be costly for providers. A new Nursing Times Learning unit, funded by Medipal, focuses on key principles of infection prevention and control

Citation: Nursing Times (2018) Free-to-access online CPD on key principles of infection control. Nursing Times [online]; 114: 6, 36.


In England alone approximately 300,000 people a year are affected by a healthcare-associated infection (HCAI), many of which are preventable. These infections are estimated to cost the NHS £1bn a year (Mantle, 2015), and can have a catastrophic impact on patients and their families. Across Europe over 4.1 million people are affected by HCAIs every year, resulting in 37,000 deaths (Unahalekhana, 2016).

Health professionals have a crucial role in preventing HCAIs by complying with evidence-based infection prevention and control (IPC) guidelines, and by reporting cases of infections subject to mandatory or voluntary surveillance. A new, user-friendly Nursing Times Learning unit, Infection Prevention and Control: Key Principles, focuses on the fundamentals of IPC practice in all settings where patient care is delivered. The learning unit is based on UK and international guidance on IPC best practice, and key evidence on this crucial subject. It is written by Neil Wigglesworth, deputy director of infection prevention and control at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Foundation Trust, London, and president of the Infection Prevention Society.

While most Nursing Times Learning units are available exclusively to Nursing Times subscribers, Infection Prevention and Control was funded by an unrestricted educational grant from Medipal, and is free to access for all registered users of It complements two of our other learning units on IPC practice:

  • Catheter Care: Care of Indwelling Urinary Catheters;
  • Patient Isolation: Transmission-based Precautions.

Registration on the website is easy and free of charge.

What is in the unit?

The learning unit consists of an evidence review summarising the essentials of IPC practice. The review also contains live links direct to key evidence and national guidance on IPC for all devolved countries in the UK. The review discusses:

  • Major types of HCAIs and their associated risk factors;
  • Modes of transmission and the chain of infection;
  • Antimicrobial resistance and stewardship;
  • Standard IPC precautions;
  • Cleaning and decontamination of care equipment and the environment.

A series of case scenarios, with multiple-choice questions and feedback, demonstrates how to translate learning into clinical practice. A multiple-choice baseline assessment taken before studying the unit shows you how much you know about the subject. The assessment is repeated after completing the unit, demonstrating how your knowledge has increased. If you score 80% or more you can download a personalised certificate for evidence of two hours’ individual CPD. If you are a Nursing Times subscriber, your score and CPD hours are automatically recorded in your NT Portfolio for use in appraisals and revalidation confirmation.

The unit can also be used as the basis for one of the five reflective accounts required for revalidation, while discussing with colleagues what you have learnt from the unit and how you can use this to improve practice in your area of work counts as participatory CPD.

A collection of illustrated factsheets on practical aspects of IPC can be downloaded or printed out for reference or use as teaching material, while users can access the learning unit itself at any time after completing it, to refresh their knowledge or quickly access any reference source.

Box 1. Learning outcomes

After completing this unit you should be able to:

  • Summarise the factors that increase patients’ risk of HCAIs
  • Explain the process of antimicrobial resistance
  • List the World Health Organization’s Five Moments for Hand Hygiene
  • Describe the principles of standard precautions and transmission-based precautions
  • Explain the principles of environmental cleaning and decontamination
  • Describe the principles of safe management of invasive devices
  • Learning unit funded by an unrestricted educational grant from Medipal

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