Nurses are bracing themselves for unannounced inspections in three leading hospitals in north Wales.
Members of North Wales Community Health Council (CHC) will quiz staff to check that they are following infection control guidance.
The watchdog aims to scrutinise 50 wards at Glan Clwyd, Denbighshire; Wrexham Maelor; and Ysbyty Gwynedd in Bangor as part of its first “bugwatch” survey.
There were 96 instances of C. difficile infection at Glan Clwyd hospital between January and May this year. At least seven patients who died were found to have the infection.
The outbreak followed a spell in which C. diff infection levels within the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) remit were higher than in most other parts of Wales.
BCUHB runs health and hospital services throughout north Wales’s six counties with a budget of about £1.2bn.
Its health board’s failure to manage infections was among the “significant management failings” brought up by health and audit watchdogs in June.
Their discoveries prompted the board’s three leading figures - the chair, chief executive and vice-chairman - to step down.
The board then said it was taking measures to improve infection control, recruiting extra nurses and seeking expert advice.
It admitted in a report last month: “Our systems to monitor and manage infection control issues were not operating consistently and effectively and that this had meant we were slow to identify an outbreak of C. diff at Glan Clwyd hospital.”
North Wales Community Health Council deputy chief officer Carol Williams said: “I really don’t think they will be able to do some mass clean up at the same time that they have patients going in.”
She said that cleanliness runs through everything and is something that everyone has to be doing.
Are you able to Speak Out Safely? Sign our petition to put pressure on your trust to support an open and transparent NHS.