Nigel calls on the Government to improve Hand Hygiene in the NHS

On Wednesday 13th January, I held a Westminster Hall debate to highlight the importance of hand hygiene in reducing healthcare associated infections (HAIs) in the NHS.

According to data from 2011, patients in England have a 6.4% chance of contracting an HAI. This manifests in more than 300,000 patients developing HAI every year, 5,000 of which result in mortality. The impact of HAIs are not only physically damaging, but financially also – it is estimated HAIs add £1bn to the NHS bill annually.

So that’s why I chose to raise this issue with the Government, to highlight my concern for patient safety and to ask that the Government look at how to ensure that proper checks are introduced. I would like to see meaningful action taken to provide patients with confidence that everything is being done to enforce proper hand hygiene best practice within hospitals across the NHS, to keep patients safe and prevent them acquiring of HAIs.

The statistics highlight that more needs to be done to tackle HAIs in the NHS, I was therefore glad to raise this issue with the Minister and I am encouraged by his response. I am pleased that he now plans to raise issues surrounding public engagement with the Chief Medical Offer, Dame Sally Davies and I welcome his commitment to encouraging Trusts to look at how to better capture data on hand hygiene to ensure quality improvements in patient safety.

The Minister responding to the debate, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Quality in the NHS, Ben Gummer MP said: “[compliance] is a very interesting area, and I would encourage local trusts to look at it in detail. The CQC has it as one of its main targets and, in the new inspection round, which will come very soon, it will want to look at the area as a central part of its monitoring.”

It is thought that more than 30% of HAIs could be avoided simply through better application of existing knowledge and realistic infection control practices – which would save lives and prevent unnecessary and prolonged hospital stays. I look forward to seeing how, following this debate, this can be done.

You can find the full transcript of the debate online at the following address.