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National Patient Safety Agency

Independent healthcare sector signs up to cleanyourhands

10 December 2008


From today (10 December) independent healthcare providers in England and Wales will have access to expert guidance and award-winning materials designed to encourage healthcare staff to clean their hands in a bid to tackle infection rates.


This comes as the cleanyourhands campaign, an NHS initiative run by the National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA), extends its remit to the independent sector.


So far the cleanyourhands campaign has been taken up by all acute trusts in England and Wales, and the majority of primary care, mental health, care and ambulance trusts.


A Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the NPSA and the Independent Healthcare Advisory Services (IHAS) at London’s Princess Grace Hospital today, allowing all members access to the campaign resources, including eye-catching posters, guidance booklets and DVDs.


Martin Fletcher, Chief Executive of the NPSA said:


“The Memorandum of Understanding marks the first time that the cleanyourhands campaign has been formally available to independent healthcare providers, thus reflecting a positive commitment to infection control nationally. We hope this will ensure a continuity of support for both the healthcare staff and patients alike, as we know that they can move between the NHS and private settings for work or treatment.


“Effective hand hygiene at the point of care has already been proven to be a step in the right direction for controlling the spread of preventable infections in the NHS, so we hope that independent healthcare providers will similarly maximise this opportunity to educate their staff and reassure their patients.”


Sally Taber, Director of the IHAS said:


“The Independent Healthcare Advisory Services Infection Control Group is delighted that the independent sector can at last have access to the cleanyourhands materials and looks forward to its close cooperation in the future with the NPSA.”


The campaign aims to reduce the spread of preventable infections such as MRSA and Clostridium difficile by educating and prompting staff to clean their hands before and after treating each patient.


An independent evaluation of the campaign in NHS hospital settings last week revealed that the initiative has engaged well with institutions and facilitated sustained changes to hand hygiene behaviour with a three fold rise in the procurement and use of alcohol handrub, strongly liked with the fall in MRSA rates in the NHS.




Notes to editors:


Media enquiries to Paul Cooney in the NPSA Press Office on 020 7927 9351 or paul.cooney@npsa.nhs.uk.


The independent evaluation of the cleanyourhands campaign was carried out by the National Observational Study of the Effectiveness of the cleanyourhands Campaign (NOSEC), which investigated all NHS acute trusts in England and Wales from December 2004 to December 2007 to assess the campaign’s effectiveness and sustainability so far in improving hand hygiene compliance among healthcare staff and reducing healthcare associated infections. For more information on the evaluation contact Dave Weston in the UCL Media Relations Office on 020 7679 7678 or d.weston@ucl.ac.uk.


The Memorandum of Understanding between the NPSA and the IHAS marks the first time that the independent healthcare sector will have access the cleanyourhands campaign resources. While these materials are provided free of charge to participating NHS organisations, IHAS members who sign up will cover the printing and distribution costs themselves.


A range of resources have been developed to support the campaign, including handbooks, posters, DVDs, stickers, floor vinyls, desk signs, screen savers and leaflets. Although these are predominantly aimed at staff, the campaign encourages patients and visitors to feel comfortable in reminding healthcare workers to clean their hands if they think they have forgotten with the slogan “It’s OK to ask”. If you are a journalist and would like to view any of these materials contact Paul Cooney in the NPSA Press Office.


The cleanyourhands campaign is a four stage campaign which aims to improve the hand hygiene of healthcare workers and help the NHS tackle healthcare associated infections. In 2008, Stage Three of the acute campaign received the award for Strategic Communication Campaign of the year at the Good Communication Awards, as well as a bronze prize for its materials at the Design Effectiveness Awards.


Since its launch in 2004, the campaign has been adopted by all NHS acute trusts in England and Wales. Stage Three of the campaign began in October 2007, with Stage Four set to launch in early 2009. In July 2008 the campaign was extended to NHS primary care, mental health, care and ambulance trusts. In June 2008 the campaign also launched in all Health and Social Care bodies in Northern Ireland.


The National Patient Safety Agency is a Special Health Authority of the NHS. It encompasses three divisions; the National Research Ethics Service, the National Reporting and Learning Service and the National Clinical Assessment Service. Each has its own sphere of expertise to improve patient outcomes. The NPSA’s vision is to lead and contribute to improved, safe patient care by informing, supporting and influencing healthcare individuals and organisations.