Hospi­tal work­ers wash­ing hands

Staff scrub­bing up

The Press and Journal (Inverness, Highlands, and Islands) - - FRONT PAGE - BY JAMES WYLLIE

The NHS has not had to dis­ci­pline a sin­gle Scot­tish hospi­tal worker for fail­ing to wash their hands in the last two years.

The sur­pris­ing fig­ures fol­lowed of­fi­cial stats show­ing a ris­ing num­ber of health­care-re­lated E coli cases and, in some health boards, in­creases in the num­ber of peo­ple be­ing di­ag­nosed with C dif­fi­cile.

Ac­cord­ing to data ob­tained by The Press and Jour­nal, the last time any NHS worker in Scot­land was pun­ished for flout­ing hand wash­ing rules was in June 2016 when “fewer than five” staff in the Bor­ders were chas­tised.

While some peo­ple have said the low num­bers are proof of ris­ing stan­dards, oth­ers have sug­gested the stats may not show the full pic­ture.

Last night MSP Alexan­der Bur­nett said it was “hard to be­lieve” the find­ings and urged health boards to en­sure their records on the topic are ac­cu­rate and com­pa­ra­ble.

The Aberdeen­shire West MSP said: “It would be help­ful to know what checks are in place for keep­ing track of hand­wash­ing by staff.

“In par­tic­u­lar, are there dif­fer­ences be­tween what hap­pens in the Bor­ders and in other health board ar­eas? We must make sure these fig­ures are re­li­able.”

Mean­while Jamie Weir, a for­mer NHS Grampian

“It would be help­ful to know what checks are in place”

board mem­ber and now spokesman for its pa­tient group Pact, said the fact no one has been dis­ci­plined in two years is “very re­as­sur­ing”. How­ever, he warned against staff com­pla­cency and the con­se­quences that may arise as a re­sult of it.

“The avail­abil­ity of gels, sinks and hand hy­giene ar­eas has sig­nif­i­cantly risen and all staff as well as pa­tients and vis­i­tors are now much more aware of the risks of in­fec­tion than be­fore,” he said.

“I am also cer­tain the ed­u­ca­tion and mon­i­tor­ing pro­ce­dures in place are suf­fi­ciently ro­bust.

“How­ever, it is es­sen­tial vig­i­lance is main­tained as in­fec­tion is a sig­nif­i­cant risk to pa­tients and staff in hos­pi­tals – and con­tin­ued ed­u­ca­tion and mon­i­tor­ing of hand-wash­ing will re­duce the like­li­hood of in­fec­tion trans­mis­sion.”

A spokes­woman for NHS Grampian said it takes all in­fec­tion con­trol pre­cau­tions “ex­tremely se­ri­ously,” adding all of its staff are ex­pected to carry out reg­u­lar train­ing and are fre­quently au­dited to en­sure the pro­ce­dures are fol­lowed cor­rectly.

Sim­i­lar poli­cies are manda­tory in all hos­pi­tals and were high­lighted in May when Health Pro­tec­tion Scot­land backed the World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion’s Save Lives: Clean Your Hands pol­icy aimed at re­duc­ing the num­ber of sep­sis cases.

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