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Hand hygiene alone won't stop MRSA, says RCN

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The Royal College of Nursing has warned that hand hygiene alone will not reduce healthcare associated infections.

A report highlighted the importance of strong leadership and management in reducing healthcare associated infections (HCAIs), such as MRSA and C difficile.

The RCN considered strong leadership, appropriate staffing levels and better management of staff workloads to be just as important as hand hygiene and environmental cleanliness.

These were the findings of the Impact of Organisation and Management Factors in Infection Control in Hospitals report by King’s College, London, commissioned by the RCN.

A multi-disciplinary approach to infection control, with teams across a range of settings and professions working together to tackle infection, was also suggested.

Additionally the report indicated a number of ‘risk factors’ that caused a higher occurrence of infection outbreaks. These included higher bed occupancy, higher numbers of patients, inadequate management, poor teamwork, low staffing and heavy work loads causing a fall in the quality of care.

Dr Peter Carter, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the RCN, said: ‘We hope that by highlighting the risk factors leading to infection outbreaks; it will allow healthcare providers to stay vigilant in monitoring factors such as staffing levels, morale and workloads which play a role in infection control.

‘We know there is no silver bullet solution to ridding our hospitals of infection and the public, organisations and the government all have a role to play. Investment in infection prevention and control is critical, with the emphasis on prevention rather than reacting when things go wrong. We call on the government to provide the promised investment for more infection prevention nurses and that healthcare providers ensure there are stronger reporting mechanisms to enable nurses to raise their concerns about poor hygiene practices.’

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