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TACKLING INFECTION


Paul Jakeway, Marketing Director at Deb, believes it is essential that all NHS stakeholders work collectively to tackle the issue of HCAIs to embed a positive culture change in the healthcare sector.


In the UK today, approximately 300,000 patients acquire a Healthcare Associated Infection (HCAI) whilst being treated in healthcare premises, costing the NHS £1bn per year, but hand hygiene is widely recognised as the most significant aspect in reducing this threat.


EVOLUTION The growth of hand hygiene is such that modern hand hygiene practices in hospitals are unrecognisable from those at the turn of the 20th century.


The introduction of synthetic chemistry and the use of vaccines and antibiotics, soap and hand sanitisers has enabled Trusts to make significant strides in tackling the issue of infection control.


However, the increase of antimicrobial resistance due to over-reliance on antibiotics, the rise of sepsis, and an ageing population (amongst many other factors), the persistent threat of HCAIs continues.


A CONTINUED THREAT In the UK, there is sustained strain on the NHS and Healthcare staff to meet challenging performance targets, rising populations, higher bed occupancy levels and the


42 | HEALTHCARE HYGIENE


need to treat and discharge patients quickly. All these factors collide to create a high-pressured environment where the risk of HCAIs is an ever-present (but still avoidable) threat.


HCAIs such as respiratory (including pneumonia and infections of the lower respiratory tract), urinary tract and surgical site infections continue to pose a serious threat to patients, staff and visitors.


They can be a direct cause of death for those infected and present significant financial implications for the NHS and Healthcare bodies, both in terms of additional bed days and treatment costs, as well as potential litigation and compensation claims.


Whilst hospitals have made considerable progress in the fight against the spread of infection, there’s still more to be done to achieve consistently robust levels of hand hygiene. After all, it’s simply not enough to understand the theory of infection – knowledge and understanding counts for nothing if it’s not backed up by culturally embedded hand hygiene behaviours, or if healthcare workers simply forget, or do not know the appropriate moments to use hand sanitisers and soaps.


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