This item was published during the term of a previous administration that ended in April 2007
Hospitals reminded on infection control
Health Minister Malcolm Chisholm today called on NHS Boards to urgently review their procedures for dealing with Hospital Acquired Infection (HAI) in order to meet the new standards set by the Clinical Standards Board for Scotland (CSBS).
His comments came as an interim report on infection control from the Clinical Standards Board for Scotland, was published today.
The report concentrates on management arrangements and complements the new surveillance system introduced to monitor the incidence of key HAIs. It concludes that HAI needs to be given an even higher priority in the NHS, and highlights the vital role of effective management in tackling HAI.
The interim report was, he said, an important indicator of the need for the NHS to increase its efforts to improve infection control arrangements.
Mr Chisholm said:
"Infection control is vital to the well being of patients and this interim report highlights examples of good practice which should be more widely known. But I am concerned that the NHS in Scotland needs to give HAI the high priority it deserves. This report should alert the NHS to the need for further action. Infection control is a top priority and must be core business for NHS management.
"Patients in Scotland should feel confident that they are receiving quality healthcare in a safe, clean environment. That is why Ministers asked the CSBS to introduce this standard and I am grateful to them for pressing ahead with this work.
"It is also why when I met with NHS Board Chairs earlier this week, I made it clear that we need to do more to ensure that patient confidence in cleanliness and the infection control arrangements in our hospitals is restored.
"I am today reinforcing that message by asking NHS Chief Executive, Trevor Jones, to instruct all NHS Boards, to step up their management of infection control procedures. The Executive will meet with NHS Chief Executives later this month to discuss with them how they plan to take this forward.
"Cleanliness in hospitals is one important part of that approach. We have already said that quality will be the deciding factor in awarding cleaning services not cost. It is not whether it is in-house or private, it is about cleanliness and tackling infection control.
"Controlling infection requires a contribution from everyone working in the NHS - including managers, clinicians and support staff. Managers must give this issue the priority it deserves.
"I have made it clear that Ministers and the public expect to see further improvement. This depends on changes at hospital level. NHS Chief executives should study the report closely to see what lessons their organisations can learn.
"There are signs that even at this early stage work already underway is beginning to address the issues. I was encouraged by the fact that all the Trusts surveyed have established infection control teams, and that the vast majority have infection control committees in place. I now want to see Trusts ensure that these teams are given the support they need to be effective in tackling infection in our hospital wards.
"Financial resources should not be an issue. The NHS has more money to invest than ever before - and it can look forward to sustained increases in investment over the next five years.
"The Executive can also play its part in bringing about change. As I announced last week, we have set out proposals to create a 'cleanliness champion' in every ward and clinical service in the NHS in Scotland, with the establishment of a new national training scheme on infection control for up to 3,500 frontline nurses.
"We will be discussing these proposals as well as other ideas on tackling this world-wide problem, at a major international conference being held by the Executive this summer.
"But what this report also shows is that NHS managers and clinicians need to take action now to ensure that we begin to see immediate improvements in terms of the number of HAIs recorded in Scottish hospitals. By the time the full report from CSBS becomes available by the end of this year, the public will rightly expect to see evidence of significant progress by NHSScotland towards meeting these standards. I will hold them to account for delivering those improvements."
CSBS is currently in the process of visiting all NHS Trusts in Scotland to measure their performance against the standards they have set. They will issue their final report at the beginning of next year.
Work currently underway to tackle Hospital Acquired Infections includes:
- hosting an international summit this summer to bring together NHS management, nurses, clinicians, microbiologists and pharmaceutical companies to draw on international and domestic expertise on how to tackle HAIs.
- proposals for consultation with nursing unions and the 'summit' for a new national training scheme on infection control for up to 3,500 frontline nurses who will act as 'cleanliness champions' on the wards.
- Audit Scotland sending in its auditors into every hospital to assess how well NHS Trusts are performing in meeting national standards for cleaning services.
- investing £8 million to help upgrade facilities for the sterilisation of surgical instruments and investing in additional instruments to improve the decontamination process.
- increasing the number of infection control nurses by a quarter since 1999 and putting funding in place to train up to another 40.