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NHS: Infection Control and Cleanliness

Volume 697: debated on Wednesday 9 January 2008

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Health (Alan Johnson) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

A comprehensive strategy to tackle healthcare-associated infections (HCAIs) and improve cleanliness in the NHS has been published today by the department and placed in the Library. Copies are available to honourable Members from the Vote Office and the document can be accessed online at PolicyAndGuidance/DH_081650.

The strategy Clean, Safe Care draws together recent initiatives to tackle HCAIs and improve cleanliness and details new areas where the National Health Service should invest the government funding of £270 million per year by 2010-11. This investment was announced in October 2007 as part of the Comprehensive Spending Review settlement to support infection control and cleanliness in the NHS.

Patients have a right to clean and safe treatment wherever and whenever they are treated by the NHS. As set out in the NHS operating framework for 2008-09, improving cleanliness and reducing healthcare-associated infections is one of the NHS’s top priorities. It must be an essential element of every procedure in the NHS so that patients have the confidence they need in the care they receive.

This strategy sets out where there are national expectations and requirements—such as the new national target for Clostridium difficile or the requirement for every hospital to have undergone a deep clean by March 2008. It also guides NHS organisations and staff as to the actions and investment that will be most effective in continuing to tackle infection and improve cleanliness in their local area.

As well as recently announced initiatives, the strategy outlines some further areas that NHS organisations need to consider when developing their local plans. These include investing in specialist staff such as infection-control nurses, pharmacists and isolation nurses, and promoting innovations through a range of programmes designed to accelerate the development and uptake of new technologies. The strategy also outlines stringent new requirements on NHS foundation trust applicants meaning that only top performers on HCAIs will now be considered, and explains how the new national contract, published in December 2007, will allow primary care trusts to fine NHS trusts that are not hitting local targets on C. difficile improvement. The department is also ensuring that NHS trusts have the resources for further investment by including an element to tackle infection in the national tariff uplift.