Good infection prevention and control, prudent antimicrobial use and cleanliness are essential to ensure that people who use health and social care services receive safe and effective care. A clean healthcare environment promotes patient confidence and demonstrates a positive safety culture. The Government has taken a number of steps to secure this, as set out below.
Firstly, all hospital trusts are required by law to be registered with the Care Quality Commission (CQC) against a range of safety and quality standards. From April 2015, a new set of fundamental standards will come into force that reflect the recommendations made by Sir Robert Francis following his inquiry into care at Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust.
The new requirement for cleanliness will be that all premises and equipment used by service providers must be:
- suitable for the purpose for which they are being used;
- properly used;
- properly maintained; and
- appropriately located for the purpose for which they are being used.
Secondly, the Department of Health is currently consulting on a revised Health and Social Care Act 2008 Code of Practice on the prevention and control of infections and related guidance that will provide guidance for hospital trusts on how they might meet the CQC’s registration requirements in relation to hygiene.
Thirdly, the Department has recently sponsored the British Standards Institution’s revision of a cleaning specification that can be used to assess the risks of poor cleanliness on patient confidence and the incidence of infection. The document is attached.
By all current measures, standards of hospital cleanliness are very high. The most recent CQC survey results (of both in-patients and accident and emergency departments) show the highest ever levels of patient satisfaction with the cleanliness of wards and toilets.
These improved levels of cleanliness have gone hand in hand with a continuing reduction in the number of healthcare associated infections such as Meticillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus.