Infection prevention

Our infection prevention and control team is committed to promoting a high standard of infection control. To help us achieve this it is important that staff, patients and visitors work together.

We operate a bare below the elbows policy which means all clinical staff work in short or rolled up sleeves with no nail polish, watches or rings other than a plain wedding bands.

Our team

Infection prevention and control is a key component of the Trust’s commitment to patient safety. Preventing healthcare-acquired infections (HCAIs) such as MRSA and C. difficile remains a key priority for the Trust as evidenced by the significant reduction in our infection rates. The team includes medical microbiologists, infection prevention and control specialist nurses, an antimicrobial pharmacist, invasive device nurse specialists and dedicated administrative and data support staff who are all committed to preventing and managing the spread of infection.

Their mission is to give expert advice to the Trust on the prevention and management of infection and to empower patients, visitors and staff to minimise the risk of HCAIs through communication, education and leadership and thereby contribute to high quality patient care. With regular audits and strict hygiene standards, the team works hard and places great importance in reducing the risk of infection for patients, visitors and staff.

The team have introduced an accreditation scheme for wards and departments throughout the Trust based on achieving standards focused on the Department of Health Saving Lives audits.

Preventing infection

We take the prevention and control of infection very seriously. Over the past few years the Trust has piloted and adopted a range of proactive measures to prevent healthcare-associated infection.

These measures include:

  • Adopting the National Patient Safety Agency, ‘Clean your Hands’ campaign
  • Provision of wall-mounted alcohol hand gels dispensers on all wards across the Trust for use by staff, patients and visitors. In addition, we have installed alcohol gel at each inpatient bedside so that it is available at the point of care
  • Providing training in infection control and hand hygiene at induction for all new staff and annual refresher training for existing staff
  • Our visitors code which ensures there is adequate time for wards to be cleaned thoroughly
  • All wards and departments have infection control link workers to ensure information is passed on to their areas
  • All medical and surgical inpatients are given a supply of antiseptic body wash to help to prevent cross infection
  • Our domestic/cleaning and ward staff aim for the highest standards of cleanliness.

Antimicrobials prescribing strategy (470kb)
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What can you do to help?

 Patients can help by:

  • Making hospital staff aware of any infections you may already have, particularly if you are currently being treated with antibiotics or have recently received antibiotics
  • Complete any course of antibiotics you may be given
  • Be aware of your own need to wash hands and don’t be afraid to challenge staff you think may not have washed their hands
  • Advise your friends and relatives that if they are ill, and particularly if they have diarrhoea, vomiting or flu not to visit the ward
  • Try to limit the numbers of visitors at any given time
  • Follow advice given with regard to wound dressings and handling of medical devices such as urinary catheters and intravenous infusions
  • Before a planned admission wash your hair and take a bath or shower before coming in
  • Remove any nail polish and put on freshly washed underwear.

Visitors can help by:

If you are visiting a member of the family or a friend in hospital, there are a number of things you can do to help prevent the spread of any infection, including MRSA.

  • Do not visit if you are feeling unwell or have an infection such as flu, or are suffering from a heavy cold or diarrhoea and vomiting. If you are unsure telephone and check with the person in charge before you visit
  • Strictly adhere to visiting times and to the numbers of visitors allowed
  • Clean your hands before entering and upon leaving the ward or place of care.
  • Do not sit on the bed or use the patients’ toilets
  • Limit the amount of items brought into the hospital that can cause clutter and make cleaning of the ward difficult
  • Check what kind of gifts or food you are allowed to bring in
  • Some wards won’t permit flowers and some may prefer you not to bring food
  • Do not touch your relative’s/friend’s wound or any devices such as drips or catheters.
  • If you need to take patient clothing home to be laundered you can also help to reduce the risk of infection by following our advice.

You may politely challenge any behaviour by staff if you feel it is not safe and ask for an explanation (there may be very good reasons why they are doing what they are doing). Talk to the nurse/midwife in charge or ask to see the matron/senior nurse/clinical leader if you have concerns about the cleanliness of the environment If you are worried or unsure about any infection control issues please speak to a member of the ward staff.

Cdiff and MRSA

Our infection rates are steadily improving year-on-year, thanks to the efforts of our dedicated infection prevention control team, our staff and our patients and visitors. Each financial year the Department of Health sets us targets to achieve in terms of our MRSA and Cdiff rates. See how we are performing against these targets.

Norovirus

During the colder months of the year it is usual to see an increased number of cases of diarrhoea and vomiting both in the community and in hospitals. This is usually due to viral gastroenteritis, norovirus, a condition sometimes known as the ‘winter vomiting bug’. The virus causes sickness and diarrhoea, sometimes fever, and usually lasts for about 24 to 48 hours. No one group is particularly at risk from the virus, although it spreads more quickly where people are in close contact with each other, such as schools, nurseries, hospitals and care homes.

If you or a close family member have symptoms of diarrhoea and/or vomiting, please stay away from hospital until you have been back to normal for at least 48  to 72 hours as you may still be infectious. If you have an appointment at a clinic or are due to come into hospital please contact the area to see if your appointment is urgent, or if it can be rescheduled until you are feeling better.

Hand hygiene

Cleaning your hands is one of the simplest, cheapest and most effective ways to prevent bacteria (germs) being passed from person to person. A third of infections are preventable and our hospital wards and clinical areas have alcohol hand gel dispensers available for staff and visitors to use to prevent the spread of infections.

All hospital staff, patients and visitors should clean their hands on a regular basis. Hospital staff can help protect you by washing their hands or by cleaning them with the alcohol hand gel before examining you or providing care. If a member of staff needs to examine you, do not be afraid to ask if they have cleaned their hands. Patients and visitors are also welcome to use the alcohol hand gel to clean their hands before and after entering a clinical area.

You should wash your hands:

  • After visiting the toilet or using a commode
  • Before eating or handling food
  • If your hands are dirty
  • Before visiting a patient and again before leaving the ward.

All staff should clean their hands if they have direct contact with you.