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A stringent independent inspection regime and more single rooms are part of the Scottish Government's continuing drive to crackdown on superbugs in hospitals.
Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon today said that every hospital in the country would be subject to random inspections to ensure the highest possible standards of infection prevention and control and environmental cleanliness are adhered to.
A consultation on the detail of the inspection arrangements begins today but the key proposals include:
- Establishing the Care Environment Inspectorate which will make unannounced visits, focusing on risks identified in each hospital's self assessmen
- Reports for each board plus a national overview for Ministers and the Scottish Parliament
- Each board to publish an improvement plan based on findings of inspectorate visits to drive forward continuous improvements
- Follow-up visits from the inspectorate to review progress against improvement plans
Ms Sturgeon also announced that single rooms will become the norm for all new and most refurbished hospitals.
On a visit to Edinburgh's Western General Hospital, she said:
"It's vital that the public have confidence in the quality of care and treatment they receive in Scottish hospitals. That is why we are absolutely committed to tackling the problem of avoidable infections in our hospitals.
"We have a robust £54 million three year infection prevention and control programme in place and the latest reports on rates of C.diff and MRSA give grounds for optimism that this is now reaping rewards.
"The launch of the inspectorate demonstrates my commitment to tackling the serious problem of Healthcare Associated Infection. I want to assure the public and further boost their confidence in the NHS by ensuring robust processes are in place to prevent avoidable infections. I will hold boards accountable to maintain the highest possible infection prevention and control standards at all times.
"I have also announced today that I have accepted the recommendations of the Scottish Government's steering group on single room provision. This will greatly increase the number of single rooms in Scottish hospitals which is a great step forward in both infection control and patient dignity."
Today also sees the publication of an independent audit report on boards' compliance with the National Cleaning Specification Monitoring Framework, commissioned by Health Facilities Scotland.
The report highlights that there is still room for improvement in the standards of hospital cleanliness and recommends annual independent audits are carried out - which will be undertaken by the inspectorate.
Inspections will be carried out by the Care Environment Inspectorate which will be based within NHS Quality Improvement Scotland.
The four week consultation on the inspection arrangements is aimed at NHS Boards and the Scottish Consumer Council. The consultation document is available at: www.scotland.gov.uk/consultations.
The inspections will focus on:
- Infection control practice (from screening to discharge)
- Hygiene and cleanliness standards
- Waste management
- The fabric of the building and accommodation (including design)
- Standards of essential equipment
- Access arrangement for visitors
The latest quarterly figures on Hospital Acquired Infections (HAIs) show that, from April to June, the number of C.difficile cases fell by seven per cent from the previous quarter (from 1,861 to 1,732). The number of MRSA cases fell six per cent over the quarter (from 197 to 185).
Health Facilities Scotland (HFS) have today published a report on, and independent review of, NHS Boards' compliance with the National Cleaning Specification Monitoring Framework which boards were required to comply with from 2006.