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NHS: Alcohol Cleaners

Volume 489: debated on Tuesday 10 March 2009

(1) To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many NHS hospitals have removed alcohol-based hand cleaning solutions in order to prevent people from drinking them; and if he will make a statement; (261891)

(2) if he will instruct NHS trusts to ensure that alcohol-based hand cleaning solutions remain available at NHS hospitals.

The national patient safety agency patient safety alert ‘Clean Hands Save Lives’ issued in September 2008 (which has been placed in the Library) provides guidance for the national health service, and explains the benefit of using alcohol handrubs at the point of care. It states:

‘There are a number of risks to patients and staff associated with the use of alcohol handrub, however the benefits in terms of its use far outweigh the risks. A risk assessment should be undertaken and a management plan put in place. This particularly applies to clinical areas managing patients with alcohol use disorder and patients at risk of deliberate self harm.’

Removing alcohol handrub from areas of hospitals is a decision for local determination, according to local risk, and the Department does not keep information on the decisions of individual hospitals centrally.

As the patient safety alert makes clear, what is important is that staff are able to undertake hand hygiene at the point of care, if necessary using soap and water.