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Scottish hospitals are getting cleaner

But infection control and ward staff need to talk more

Jo Carlowe

Tuesday, 05 February 2013

Standards of cleanliness in Scottish hospitals have improved according to Scotland’s top hospital inspector.

In a report published today the Chief Inspector of the Healthcare Environment Inspectorate (HEI) found that the number of requirements and recommendations issued to health boards as a result of inspections reduced significantly last year.

From October 2011 to September 2012, the HEI made 110 requirements and 81 recommendations, compared to 172 requirements and 180 recommendations in the first report in 2009-2010.

Rates of C. diff in patients aged 65 and over reduced by 37%, and the number of cases of MRSA fell by 35% in the same time period.

Commenting on the data, Health Secretary Alex Neil said: “I am determined to achieve improved performance right across the NHS in Scotland on healthcare associated infections, and to ensure that patients and the public can have complete confidence in the cleanliness of hospitals and the quality and safety of services.

“I am encouraged to see notable improvements in hospitals, but we are not complacent and I recognise there are still a number of areas where further improvement is needed.

“All NHS Boards have been left in no doubt that they must act now to tackle any issues raised in these inspection reports as a matter of urgency.

“This report reassures me that the inspections are helping to improve the hospital care environment for people across Scotland.”

The report highlighted improvements in cleaning in hospitals, fewer maintenance and repair issues, better awareness and access to training in infection control for all staff.

However, it stated that more attention needed to be given to cleaning hard-to-reach areas and patient equipment in some areas. Six hospitals were picked up on the former and told to clean up their act when it came to high-level dusting and hard-to-reach areas such as floor corners. Nine hospitals were told to pay more attention to detail when cleaning patient equipment.

In addition the report called for improved communication between infection control staff and ward staff.

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