A new IT system is to be rolled out across Wales in an effort to improve the management of healthcare-associated infections.
The Welsh government is investing £1.9m in the technology, which it hopes will help health boards prevent, track and control outbreaks in “real time”.
“The new system will allow the Welsh NHS to track, prevent, control and manage HCAIs in real time”
As part of the new system, NHS staff including nurses will be alerted as soon as an HCAI case is identified.
They can then take immediate steps to reduce the risk of the infection spreading to other patients and staff in the hospital or community setting, under the plans.
The technology, which was first used in North Wales, should also mean nurses spend less time searching records and reviewing historic cases, and more time caring for patients.
The roll-out of the system – called ICNet – is being funded from the government’s Efficiency Through Technology Fund.
The system will be able to link up with other national IT systems including surgery databases, laboratory records and patient administration systems.
Clinicians will be able to track the care of patients with confirmed infections such as MRSA if they need to be transferred to another hospital.
“We are delighted the work we have done in developing the system will now be shared”
Meanwhile, the network will also provide a national picture of infection control rates across Wales, allowing health boards, Public Health Wales and the government to share up-to-date information.
The national roll-out was announced on Monday by deputy health minister for Wales Vaughan Gething, with the system expected to be in place by mid-2017.
“Healthcare-associated infections are harmful to patients and a costly burden for the Welsh NHS,” said Mr Gething.
‘Real time’ monitoring of HCAIs in Welsh hospitals
“The new national ICNet system will allow the Welsh NHS to track, prevent, control and manage healthcare-associated infections in real time,” he said.
“This will help improve patient safety by reducing preventable infection outbreaks in our hospitals,” he added.
ICNet was initially introduced across North Wales as part of local efforts to reduce avoidable infections.
“It has helped us enormously and we continue to reduce the number of cases of Clostridium difficile infection and MRSA bacteraemia through this programme of work,” said Tracey Cooper, assistant director of nursing for infection prevention at Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board.
“We are delighted the work we have done in developing the system will now be shared across the whole of Wales,” she added.