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Hospitals: Hygiene

Volume 485: debated on Thursday 18 December 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of hospitals in meeting hygiene and cleanliness standards. (245003)

NHS Estates set up the Patient Environment Action Team (PEAT) programme in 2000 to inspect hospital cleanliness. This programme is now managed by the National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA). Under the PEAT programme, every inpatient health care facility in England with more than 10 beds is assessed annually. PEAT inspections cover food and aspects of privacy and dignity, as well as cleanliness and the environment. All areas have shown improvement this year. The hospital PEAT scores for 2008 show 98.5 per cent. of hospitals are now rated excellent, good or acceptable. More information can be found on the NPSA website:

www.npsa.nhs.uk/peat.

The Health Act 2006: Code of Practice for the Prevention and Control of Healthcare Associated Infections, commonly called the "Hygiene Code", came into force on 1 October 2006 and requires national health service bodies to have appropriate management and clinical governance systems in place to deliver effective infection control. Compliance with the Code is assessed by the Healthcare Commission (HCC), who have the power to issue an “improvement notice” to an NHS body that is not compliant. During 2007-08 the HCC carried out 120 unannounced inspections to ensure compliance with the Hygiene Code and, from April 2008, specialist teams from the HCC have been carrying out annual infection control inspections of all acute trusts against the Hygiene Code. Four improvement notices have been issued to acute trusts by the HCC so far. All four trusts subsequently demonstrated that they had improved and were compliant with the Hygiene Code.

As part of the HCC's Annual Health Check, the HCC asks all NHS trusts to declare their performance against the 44 parts of the 24 core standards for NHS healthcare, as set out in “Standards for Better Health”. The HCC then carries out a number of inspections to test these declarations. Three standards relate to the hygiene code, C04a (infection control), C04c (decontamination) and C21 (clean environments). In the 2007-08 annual health check, the national compliance rate in the NHS for C04a (infection control) was 88 per cent., the compliance rate for C04c (decontamination) was 77 per cent., and the compliance rate for C21 (clean environments) was 90 per cent.

Further information on the HCC's programme, including the results of their inspections of individual trusts against the Hygiene Code, a summary of their findings of the first 51 inspections against the Hygiene Code in 2008 and their reports on the 2007-08 Annual Health Check and on the State of Healthcare 2008, can be found on their website, www.healthcarecommission.org.uk. The Care Quality Commission, the new health and adult social care regulator established under the new Health and Social Care Act, will continue to regulate and inspect trusts against their requirements to prevent and control infections.