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Hospitals: Infectious Diseases

Volume 472: debated on Monday 25 February 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what research has been (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated on the effectiveness of one-off deep cleaning of hospitals in preventing the spread of healthcare-associated infections. (187200)

As set out in the written ministerial statement on 17 January 2008, Official Report, columns 38-39WS, following completion of the deep clean of the national health service on 31 March 2008, the Department will work with strategic health authorities (SHAs) to draw up examples of where a deep clean has had a demonstrable effect in improving patient care and experience, and will share these across the NHS.

SHAs will take the lead on evaluation locally as the impact of each trust’s programme will be different and no single measurement method will pick up all the benefits, particularly as trusts may be implementing a range of measures to improve cleanliness and tackle healthcare-associated infections.

Improvements in patient experience and environment may be measurable through

Patient Environment Action Team scores;

scores on National Specifications for Cleanliness;

compliance with the “Code of Practice for the Prevention and Control of Healthcare Associated Infections”;

compliance with Department of Health national core standards;

health care Commission in-patient survey scores; and

infection rates.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the risk of airborne transmission of infectious diseases, such as MRSA and clostridium difficile in hospitals; and if he will make a statement. (188719)

This reply only covers methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Clostridium difficile (C. difficile).

The available evidence for MRSA and C. difficile is that the main route of transmission is via inadequately cleaned hands, hence the Department's focus on good hand hygiene and cleaning (especially of frequently touched areas). There is little evidence to suggest that airborne exposure is a significant transmission route. The Department continues to monitor any new evidence and is aware of some evaluations of air decontamination systems that are ongoing in national health service settings, the results of which will be reviewed when they are available.