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23
Nov

Government announces plans to boost NHS infection control


Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has launched new plans to reduce infections in the NHS. He announced government plans to halve the number of gram-negative bloodstream infections by 2020 at an infection control summit.

E. coli infections – which represent 65% of gram-negative infections – killed more than 5,500 NHS patients last year and are set to cost the NHS £2.3 billion by 2018. There is also large variation in hospital infection rates, with the worst performers having more than five times the number of cases than the best performing hospitals.

Infection rates can be cut with better hygiene and improved patient care in hospitals, surgeries and care homes, such as ensuring staff, patients and visitors regularly wash their hands.

These new plans build on the progress made in infection control since 2010 – the number of MRSA cases has been reduced by 57% and C. difficile by 45%.

Jeremy Hunt said “The NHS can rightly be proud that in the last 6 years we’ve reduced the number of MRSA cases by 57% and C. difficile by 45%. These aren’t abstract numbers – they show that we have prevented the needless suffering – sometimes fatal suffering – of over 60,000 people in that period. Because every avoidable infection also has a financial cost, we know that progress has also saved the NHS over half a billion pounds.”

The government’s plans to prevent NHS infections include allocating more money for hospitals making the most progress in reducing infection rates with a new £45 million quality premium. Independent Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspections will focus on infection prevention based on E. coli rates in hospitals and in the community, and take action against poor performers. The NHS will need to publish staff hand hygiene indicators for the first time and display E. coli rates on wards, making them visible to patients and visitors in the same way that MRSA and C. difficile are currently. Training and information sharing will be improved so NHS staff can learn from the best in cutting infection rates and a new national infection lead, Dr Ruth May, has been appointed.

Dr May said: “This is a clear plan to achieve real change across the NHS focusing on a combination of strict oversight from the CQC and the collection, publication and intelligent use of data which will ensure organisations improve infection control and help us to make sure poor performers get the support they need to improve quickly.”

The Government has also announced the 'Getting It Right First Time Programme' that will focus on cutting infection rates resulting from surgery amid plans to encourage better use of antibiotics as part of a broader commitment to tackle antimicrobial resistance.

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