Hospital hygiene focus should be broader, says House of Commons committee


A UK House of Commons report criticises NHS Trusts for not reporting the full extent of HAIs

The All-Party Public Accounts Committee, while acknowledging the UK Department of Health’s progress in tackling MRSA and C. Difficile and improving hospital cleanliness, warned in its report, Reducing Healthcare Associated Infection in Hospitals in England, that many more potentially fatal bugs may be going undetected, because of a lack of surveillance. MRSA and C. Difficile account for only 20% of HAIs. There is still no robust comparable data on the extent and risks of at least 80% of healthcare associated infections and the Committee reiterates its recommendation that the Department of Health works with the Health Protection Agency and Office of National Statistics to identify all deaths linked to healthcare associated infections, and take action to reduce such deaths. “Better understanding of the impact of patient movement within and between hospitals and the community, underpinned by a health economy wide approach to infection prevention and control, is needed to sustain and deliver further improvements,” the Committee added.

There is also a need for the Department of Health to commission research to determine whether there is a link between bed occupancy and other HAIs and C. Difficile.

Manchester-based Byotrol, which supplies an anti-microbial product that kills superbugs, suggests that hospitals should move away from cleaning as a preventative measure if a problem arises and instead focus on good all-round hygiene.

“Focusing all efforts on just two types of bug means that we’re only tackling the tip of the iceberg, rather than the iceberg itself,” says Stephen Falder, the inventor of Byotrol.

Falder believes that preventing the superbugs in the first place is an achievable goal.

“In our study at the Manchester Royal Infirmary, the focus was on total hygiene and looked in detail at all hospital bugs. We know that a focus on total hygiene can work,” he said.

The 11-month study showed that Byotrol was 30% more effective than conventional bleach-based cleaners in reducing hospital superbugs, including MRSA and C. Difficile.

The study, led by consultant microbiologist Dr Andrew Dodgson, revealed that Byotrol continues to have an antibacterial effect for at least 24 hours after application. By contrast, bleach-based cleaners cease working once the surface has dried.

The company claims that a single application of Byotrol can prevent mould, bacteria and infections from surviving on hands, floors, equipment, curtains or any surface cleaned with the product.

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Every year, more than 300,000 patients in England acquire an HAI while in hospital, which costs the NHS more than £1bn a year. In 2007, there were 9,000 deaths recorded with MRSA and C. Difficile.