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Patients should 'tell nurses to wash hands'

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Patients need to be more assertive and be wary of doctors and nurses who do not wash their hands, according to health secretary Alan Johnson.

Responding to questions by the Health Select Committee last week, Mr Johnson said: ‘We need to make patients confident and assertive enough to comment if their clinician has not washed their hands.’

Mr Johnson criticised some surgeons who ‘feel exempt from washing their hands’ and said that the alcoholic gel now widely provided was not enough to kill all bacteria. Instead, he said, soap and water were essential in reducing hospital infection.

The NHS driven cleanyourhands campaign encourages all who enter hospitals to regularly wash their hands.

Mr Johnson said: ‘A deep clean on its own will not make any progress. The cleanyourhands campaign has been successful but there are still problems. Scrupulous cleanliness is the only way to tackle this huge problem.
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