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Handwashing has helped cut superbug infections

4th May 2012

Superbug infection rates have fallen significantly across hospitals in England and Wales with a major factor being a campaign to improve hand hygiene.

hand sanitizer

During the campaign, the amount of soap and hand gel being used in hospitals tripled and at the same time there were falls in rates of MRSA and Clostridium difficile.

One of the authors of the study, published on the BMJ website, described the outcome as a real British success story.

Dr Sheldon Stone from the Royal Free University College London Medical School said: "We've gone from being the dirty man of Europe to being world leaders. What we need to do is keep up the momentum and stay at the forefront of world hand hygiene."

The Department of Health’s Clean Your Hands campaign was introduced in June 2005 after it became clear that superbugs were a major issue in hospitals across the country.

As part of that, staff were reminded to wash their hands and alcohol gels were put beside the beds of patients.

Within three years, the levels of soap and alcohol gel being purchased by hospitals rose from 22ml per patient per day to 60ml per patient per day.

During that period rates of MRSA more than halved and C diff infections fell by more than 40%.

Acknowledging the success of the campaign, a Department of Health spokesman added: “The challenge now is to ensure the NHS embeds the good practice highlighted in the campaign to achieve our ambition to wipe out avoidable healthcare-associated infection.”

 

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