Public to report NHS hygiene failures to Scottish Government

handwashingBy Domenica Goduto

Patients and visitors to hospitals are being encouraged to report hygiene failures on the part of the NHS directly to the Scottish Government.

This measure is among several announced by the Government today as part of a new campaign to improve cleanliness standards in order to combat hospital superbugs. 

Other measures include random hygiene inspections and the creation of a government organization, the Care Environment Inspectorate, specifically dedicated to wiping out infections such as MRSA and C. diff.

Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon announced that the £1 million that will be spent on the scheme each year is an indication of the Government’s determination to tackle the problem.

She stated: “We have put in place a comprehensive package of measures, including boosting spending by 260 per cent, but it’s crucial that we – and more importantly the public – are assured that this work is delivering the high standards everyone expects.

“The Care Environment Inspectorate’s stringent inspection regime will do just that.

The initiative is the result of a consultation held last year in reponse to the C.diff outbreak that killed 18 people at the Vale of Leven hospital in 2007.

More stringent hygiene standards have already lowered the number of MRSA and C. diff cases since 2006, when 40 people across the Lothians died as a result of the latter infection.

Handwashing regulations are being more strictly adhered to, and the appointment of nurse wardens to each ward has helped with the enforcement of cleanliness standards.

Junior doctors have also been warned not to list C. diff as a contributing factor on death certificates unless they are absolutely positive that this is the case.

Sturgeon also notes that the appointment of a chief inspector to oversee the Government’s efforts in this area will be a key factor in its success.  She says:  “With the right person at the helm, offering strong leadership, I’m confident that the inspectorate will ensure all boards meet the highest possible standards.

The move follows claims by Theresa Fyffe, director of the Royal College of Nursing in Scotland, last week that the Government needed a more coordinated approach to battling superbugs, including more staff, an overall supervisor and clearer guidelines on initiatives.

She said that many frontline hospital staff were confused by the Government’s sporadic tactics and that the issue was becoming politicized, thereby creating confusion and anxiety on the wards.