Nurses will have to report surgical site infections (SSIs) after hospital discharge, under government plans.
Ministers in Wales announced last week that mandatory post-discharge surveillance
of SSIs will be introduced as part of a community strategy to help reduce healthcare-associated infections.
The Department of Health told NT that it has plans to develop a similar scheme in England.
Midwives in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland already undertake mandatory post-discharge SSI surveillance of Caesarean section operations. Nurses in Wales will be the first in the UK to extend the scheme to include other operations.
In 2005 the Health Protection Agency’s now defunct steering group on HCAIs put forward proposals to the DH to introduce post-discharge surveillance in England.
According to the minutes of a meeting of the group in November that year, the DH agreed it should be introduced as a ‘matter of priority’.
Last week a DH spokesperson said: ‘Discussions with the HPA are ongoing. We intend to develop a system of collecting reliable data with the HPA and are consulting our specialist advisory committee.’
Martin Jones, community network coordinator for the Infection Prevention Society, welcomed the move but warned that resources could be an issue. ‘There’s got to
be investment in terms of personnel,’ he said.
The Welsh strategy also calls for a feasibility study to assess whether wider HCAI surveillance can be developed nationally across community services.
‘Post-discharge surveillance gives us a much more realistic picture of the burden of HCAIs,’ said Dafydd Williams, infection control nurse and Welsh representative of the Infection Prevention Society. ‘The long-term benefit of that is that we can then make improvements where necessary.’
Much of the work is likely to fall to community staff, such as practice and district nurses.
Mr Williams added that such staff should be fully engaged and have support from infection control specialists.