NHS nurses and other staff in Scotland who fail to wash their hands will be targeted in a move designed to stamp out hospital infections like MRSA and C. diff.
The ‘zero tolerance policy’ announced by the Scottish Government means that the public will be able to check superbug infection rates and levels of hand cleanliness for each hospital on a website to be established by the end of the month.
The ‘zero tolerance’ approach has been set out by the Scottish Government’s chief nursing officer, Paul Martin, in a letter to all health board chief executives and suggests possible disciplinary action if hospitals or individual staff are found to be below recommended standards.
Figures earlier this month showed varying levels of compliance for hand hygiene. The target level for compliance in Scotland is at least 90%. Overall, this target is being exceeded, at 93%. But within this total, compliance levels vary from 95% for nurses to 84% for medical staff.
The RCN backed the drive, but said that research showed individuals were rarely to blame and disciplinary action should only be a ‘last resort’.
‘They must ensure that all staff understand exactly what is expected of them in relation to hand hygiene and that healthcare staff working in demanding environments have appropriate opportunities to wash their hands,’ the RCN said.