Implemented trust-wide in 2006, the steam-cleaning programme at University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust has helped cut the rate of MRSA by more than half, from 93 cases in 2006–2007 to 43 cases in 2007–2008.
The trust has seen a dramatic reduction in Clostridium difficile infection in the over-65s, from 1,920 cases between January and December 2006 to 918 over the same period in 2007.
Every ward is vacated and deep cleaned once a year using steam cleaners. Each ward is then ‘bombed’ with a hydrogen peroxide mist which destroys micro-organisms on all surfaces.
Carole Ribbins, acting chief nurse and director of infection prevention and control at the trust, said: ‘It took a huge amount of planning and organisation to implement the programme but all wards are on board because they want their areas to be clean.
‘The cost is offset against the improvement in patient care and the reduction in infection rates, and the programme has also made it easier for nurses to keep their wards clean.
‘The trust is also involved in an ongoing research project with Loughborough University to assess the effectiveness of the programme,’ she added.
A Department of Health report published last week urged all trusts in England and Wales to ‘embed’ the government’s national deep clean programme into routine practice.
‘Deep cleaning has always been important as part of infection prevention and control measures,’ said Tracey Cooper, vice-president of the Infection Prevention Society.
‘As well as routine cleaning, all nurse leaders and infection prevention teams should be involved in agreeing a deep cleaning programme based on local circumstances.’