“Unacceptable” infection rates in NHS hospitals

NICE has issued new quality standards in response to ‘unacceptable’ rates of infection in NHS hospitals.

The National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has issued new quality standards for doctors and nurses after criticising “unacceptable” infection rates in hospitals – figures suggest that around 300,000 patients develop infections each year through NHS treatment.

The new standards will look at key measures such as hand-washing and catheter insertion and demand that antibiotics are prescribed in accordance with the guidelines in a bid to reduce the number of infections, which are often picked up through invasive procedures.

Prof Gillian Leng, deputy chief executive and director of health and social care at NICE, said: “It is unacceptable that infection rates are still so high within the NHS. Infections are a costly and avoidable burden.”

While the rates of common infections such as MRSA and Clostridium difficile have fallen in recent years, said Prof Leng, “healthcare associated infections are still a very real threat to patients, their families and carers, and staff.”

“The quality standard gives primary, community and secondary care services the most up-to-date advice on the best way to minimise the risk of infections.”

Tom Sandford, director of the Royal College of Nursing in England, welcomed the new quality standard and said it was “vital that all health workers are actively involved in upholding infection control and hygiene standards”.

He also called on employers to “support their staff in adhering to NICE’s quality standard, from making sure they receive the relevant training to allowing them the time to follow the correct procedures.”