Spot-check reveals breaches in hospitals' hygiene code

PUBLISHED: 11:11 31 December 2008 | UPDATED: 13:48 06 May 2010

A SPOT-check at local hospitals revealed breaches in two out of the three hygiene codes under inspection. The Healthcare Commission assessed West Herts Hospitals Trust (WHHT) in October and found that regulations on maintaining a clean and appropriate en

A SPOT-check at local hospitals revealed breaches in two out of the three hygiene codes under inspection.

The Healthcare Commission assessed West Herts Hospitals Trust (WHHT) in October and found that regulations on maintaining a clean and appropriate environment for healthcare were not fully met.

The trust failed four out of the six sections for reasons which included the cleanliness and state of repair of Hemel Hempstead and Watford General Hospitals where a total of five wards and two endoscopy units were inspected.

Although the standards of cleaning were generally good, some areas were in need of refurbishment and bad storage hindered cleaning, which resulted in dust and debris on the floor in the rooms.

The trust also failed to adequately comply with the code regarding management systems for infection prevention and control -- but did meet its duty to provide adequate isolation facilities.

The Healthcare Commission has now made recommendations to the Trust about how it must improve and strengthen its systems for managing the risks of hospital-acquired infections. It will revisit the Trust in the spring to check that the improvements have been made.

The recommendations include plugging gaps in assurance systems for infection control, organising and removing clutter from all parts of the hospitals so that cleaning targets can be met and identifying treatment rooms on the cleaning schedule.

It also said the Trust should ensure that the decontamination of reusable devices took place in dedicated and approved facilities and that staff needed to be trained to a proficient level for the decontamination process to be conducted safely.

The Healthcare Commission inspected every hospital in the country to check they were following guidance on protecting patients from infections.

Professor Graham Ramsay, WHHT's medical director and director of infection, prevention and control, said: "We are grateful to have the information from this very thorough inspection visit. We already have actions in place to deal with the recommendations made. The Trust is very pleased with its current performance on C.Diff and MRSA."

The latest figures published by the Health Protection Agency (HPA) show that between April and June 2008, WHHT had the biggest decrease in infections compared to a year ago out of any other acute hospital in England.

The HPA data shows a reduction in infections of 64 per cent in WHHT hospitals compared to a national average reduction of 21 per cent.

A spokesperson for WHHT said the improvement has been accomplished by introducing a number of measures to combat infections including reinforcing hand hygiene, opening isolation wards, weekly hygiene audits and reducing the prescription of certain antibiotics which reduced resistance to infections.

Blob* The deputy director of infection control at WHHT has won employee of the year in the annual excellence awards.

Francis Stratford received his award at a special staff awards for excellence ceremony at which chairman of WHHT, Professor Thomas Hanahoe, said: "This year we received some outstanding nominations for our staff who are totally committed to improving the care of patients.

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