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TOMORROW’S CLEANING OCTOBER 09
Law and Order
Reducing infection
in hospitals
• Giving power to patients; appointed, with clear responsibility for the
• A so-called “Matron’s Charter”;
patient environment.
• Independent inspections to measure progress;
Various potential solutions for the problem of hospital
• Learning from the very best;
infection are highlighted including the following:
• The use of mobile decontamination units;
• Harnessing the latest research and technology.
• The use of steam cleaning;
More recently, the Health and Social Care Act 2008
provided for the issue of an NHS Code of Practice
• The use of portable ozone sanitisers to
addressing the prevention and control of health care
supplement existing cleaning activity.
associated infections, (including MRSA). All
Impact
cleaning contractors operating in hospitals are
Contractors can expect to face an ever increasing
directed to this important guidance which can be
level of supervision from hospital trusts and
found at the DH website.
pressure to perform to more exacting standards;
The above Code of Practice came into force on 1
Failure to comply with such requirements could
April 2009. In addition to the above Code, it is
result in the loss of hospital cleaning contracts.
clearly important that there is also compliance with
Each month Paul Dumbleton, all of the various pre-existing legislation, including
It is therefore recommended that all hospital
the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the
contractors should fully review their operations to
Senior Director of Beech Jones
Control of Substances Hazardous to Health
ensure compliance with all the relevant legislation,
de Lloyd solicitors, offers Regulations 2002, as well as all relevant Health
and guidance as to best practice.
exclusive legal advice to the
and Safety Regulations.
In addition to the risk of facing loss of contracts,
Under the above Code of Practice, the Care Quality
contractors may very well face the following further
readers of Tomorrow’s Cleaning.
Commission has a wide range of enforcement
potential consequences if they allow their standards
This month, Paul looks at
powers, which in serious cases include the
to slip:
suspension of registration, prosecution for identified
The risk of claims for damages for negligence/
reducing infection in hospitals.
health and safety related offences and as a last resort
breach of contract.
In extreme cases, the risk of criminal sanctions,
It is widely recognised that infection in our hospitals
“in extreme cases” the cancellation of registration of
up to and including the possibility of charges of
is a major problem, and one which puts at risk the
health institutions.
manslaughter where death occurs due to gross
lives of patients who are admitted to hospitals for
In those circumstances, pressure will clearly be felt
negligence or recklessness on the part of the
conditions which are not of themselves life-threatening.
upon those undertaking contract cleaning work in
the NHS to ensure the highest possible standards of
contractors or their staff.
There is a specific focus on the levels of MRSA
performance amongst their staff.
infection. MRSA (Methicillin-resistant
Conclusion
Staphylococcus Aureus) is a particular type of
Best Practice Guidance
It is important to keep abreast of best practice,
bacteria which has become increasingly resistant to
Those involved in contract cleaning work in
including from specialist trade publications
antibiotics, meaning that MRSA infection has
hospitals and clinics should consult all relevant
such as Tomorrow’s Cleaning, as well as consulting
become much more difficult to treat.
‘Best Practice’ Guidance issued by the Department
the DH website, [which is a particularly useful
source of information], and the HSE website on a
The number of recorded cases of MRSA has been
of Health, including the “Deep Clean Good Practice
regular basis.
rising sharply, from 2,422 in England and Wales in
Guidance.” This latter guidance recognises that
1997/98 to 7,684 in 2003/2004 in England alone.
“cleanliness is essential for the comfort and dignity If you have a question for Paul, email
15% of reported cases resulting in death.
of the patients, particularly for those in-patients for paul@beechjones.com and quote
whom the hospital is home for any length of time”. Tomorrow’s Cleaning.
What is being done?
These concerns gave rise to the so called “Deep
In December 2003 the Chief Medical Officer at the
This article is not intended to constitute legal advice and
Clean” programme first announced by the Prime
Department of Health [DH] published “Winning
should not be relied upon as such. Rather, it endeavours to
Minister in September 2007. The Deep Clean
Ways”, a strategy for reducing health care
provide a useful overview of the relevant law. You should
programme sought to encourage hospital trusts to
associated infections in England.
always seek legal advice if you are unsure or need
take stock of their hospital cleaning plans, providing
clarification in relation to your legal obligations.
Subsequently, the DH published “Towards Cleaner a base line of cleanliness which would inform their
Hospitals and Lower Rates of Infection” in 2004, ongoing programmes of routine deep cleaning.
providing an action plan for cleaner hospitals and
As recognised by the Deep Clean Guidance,
lower rates of infection.
“cleanliness is everyone’s responsibility” with the
The above guidance provided for the following whole health economy, taking their share of that
campaign for action: responsibility.
• Being open with the public;
To this end, over 5,000 Matrons have been
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