Beating disease is in all our hands

BEST PRACTICE... Professor Stephen Singleton OBE, medical director for NHS North of England.
BEST PRACTICE... Professor Stephen Singleton OBE, medical director for NHS North of England.

WELL-scrubbed South Tynesiders can help keep hospital infection rates low by championing a national campaign.

Today is the World Heath Organisation’s (WHO) annual awareness day ‘Save Lives, Clean Your Hands’, and health chiefs are reminding people just how vital good hand hygiene is in the fight against infections.

The number of hospital bugs remain at an all-time low in the region, with reductions in MRSA by 88 per cent and Clostridium Difficile – also known as C.diff – by 69 per cent, since NHS North East launched its ‘Scrub Up’ campaign in 2008.

Within South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust, which runs South Tyneside District Hospital in South Shields, there was zero cases of MRSA between April last year and this year. But there were 13 cases of C.diff, slightly higher than the previous year’s nine, though lower than the 19 incidents reported in 2009/10.

Bev Atkinson, executive director of nursing, said: “We are extremely pleased to have achieved these results.

“Our C.diff rose slightly from the previous year when we only had nine cases, however, we are certainly one of the best performing trusts in England and Wales in relation to our low infection control rates.”

Despite this success, there is still a priority to reduce rates even further, and hand washing is the single most important thing people can do to help reduce the spread of infections in the NHS.

Professor Stephen Singleton, medical director for NHS North of England, said: “Although it may seem like a relatively simple idea, practising good hand hygiene is actually one of the best defences against the spread of infections such as MRSA and C.diff in the region’s healthcare settings.

“Keeping infections to a minimum is a key priority for the health service, and I want everyone to understand how serious we are about this issue. This is something chief executives, doctors, nurses, porters, cleaners, managers and all of the region’s 73,000 NHS staff have a key role in achieving.”

He added: “I would also encourage people in the North East to realise what an important role they too can play in keeping patients safe, simply by cleaning their hands when they visit hospital.”

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