The NHS will publish data on the cleanliness of nurses’ and doctors’ hands for the first time, under new government plans in England to reduce infections.
Rates of E coli will also be displayed on wards and analysed by hospital inspectors as part of a drive to halve the number of gram-negative bloodstream infections like E coli and sepsis by 2020, health secretary Jeremy Hunt has announced.
Mr Hunt unveiled the government’s tough new stance on infection control at a Royal College of Nursing event in London today where he also announced the appointment of Ruth May, executive director of nursing at NHS Improvement, as national infection control lead.
”This is a clear plan to achieve real change across the NHS focusing on a combination of strict oversight from the CQC, publication and intelligent use of data”
Efforts to improve basic infection control procedures like hand washing and ensuring the correct use of urinary catheters will be at the heart of this latest push to tackle deadly superbugs.
Under the plans, NHS organisations will be expected to publish performance data on staff hand hygiene.
There will also be a new focus on E coli, which represents 65% of gram-negative infections, and killed more than 5,500 NHS patients last year.
E coli rates will be displayed on wards so they can be seen by staff, patients and visitors in the same way MRSA and C difficile rates are currently shown.
Meanwhile the Care Quality Commission will examine new data on E coli and take action against poor performing areas.
Mr Hunt promised improved training for staff and better information sharing so NHS organisations can learn from the best at cutting infection rates.
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Hospitals making progress in reducing infection rates will get more money thanks to a £45million “quality premium” funding pot, he said.
Mr Hunt also announced an additional £60 million to expand the Getting it Right First Time programme, which aims to improve clinical quality and cut post-surgery infection.
The programme, which was pioneered in orthopaedics, will be extended to 18 other surgical and medical specialities with a central focus on infection control.
“Taken together, these measures are intended to achieve a dramatic reduction in hospital infections, reducing enormous pain and suffering in the process,” said Mr Hunt.
“They will make us better at knowing when to use antibiotics and better at knowing when not to use them. They will save doctors and nurses time, and save the NHS money,” headed.
Ms May said the plans would help to ensure improvements in infection control across the health service.
”Nursing staff have a significant role to play in limiting the threat from antimicrobial resistance and it’s crucial they receive the [necessary] training, guidance and resources”
“This is a clear plan to achieve real change across the NHS focusing on a combination of strict oversight from the CQC, publication and intelligent use of data,” she said.
“It will ensure organisations improve infection control and help us make sure poor performers get the support they need to improve quickly,” she added.
The plans were welcomed by the RCN, which said nurses would be at the forefront of delivering improvements.
“Infections are a merciless killer, with lives lost prematurely every year, not to mention the billions of pounds they cost the NHS,” said RCN general secretary and chief executive Janet Davies.
“NHS staff will be the drivers of this strategy. Nursing staff have a significant role to play in limiting the threat from antimicrobial resistance and it’s crucial they receive the training, guidance and resources to transform these plans into real improvements for NHS patients,” she said.