Chief Medical Office Critical Of NHS Hand Hygiene

The Chief Medical Officer’s Annual report records that poor hand hygiene continues to spread infection within the NHS.

In Switzerland, the incidence of MRSA infection halved in the three years after the launch of a hand hygiene initiative.  Yet, in the NHS, despite a campaign to encourage healthcare professionals to wash their hands before seeing each patient, the Chief Medical Officer reports that only around 60% do so, with one study reporting a figure as low as 10%.

The Chief Medical Officer is recommending that patients be given the burden of ensuring that doctors and nurses have washed their hands, by issuing patients with alcohol gel when they are admitted and asking the patient to tell staff to wash their hands.  How the ill, vulnerable and incapacitated are expected to cope with this burden, which should surely be the responsibility of healthcare professionals, is not clear.

In 2006, 8% of all adult patients contracted an infection whilst in hospital.  The National Audit Office estimate that there are 300,000 such infections each year, killing an estimated 5,000 patients and costing the NHS one billion pounds each year.

Posted 17th July 2007 | Posted in News,Uncategorised