Infection prevention and control: lessons from acute care in England

Infection prevention and control: lessons from acute care in England

Author: The Health Foundation

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Infection control has been high on the political agenda and on the agenda of the NHS in England in recent years.

There have been many successes, not least the reduction in MRSA bloodstream infections and cases of Clostridium difficile infection. However, other health care associated infections that have not been monitored as rigorously are growing in incidence. New infections, including the growing number of more resistant strains of bacteria, are in danger of spreading. As a result, infection control needs to remain central to the work of the NHS.

This learning report is based on the findings of a large research study that identified and consolidated published evidence about infection prevention and control initiatives. The researchers synthesised this with findings from qualitative case studies in two large NHS hospitals, including the perspectives of service users.

The report considers what has been learned from the infection prevention and control work carried out over the last 15 years in hospitals in England. It looks at the lessons learned and outlines future directions for effective infection prevention and control:

  • Measures for infection prevention and control need to be appropriate and responsive.
  • Infection prevention and control should remain central to inspection and regulation.
  • All national-level campaigns require an explicit framework underpinning how the campaign is intended to work and must be accompanied by an evaluation strategy.
  • Hospitals must have the structural and cultural capacity to deliver effective infection prevention and control and antibiotic usage.
  • Trusts need to ensure that the goals for infection prevention and control and patient safety are integrated and aligned at the clinical front line.
  • Clinical and managerial leaders of infection prevention and control are needed at all levels in the organisation.
  • Define the role of the public before they become patients.
  • A whole health economy approach is needed for infection prevention and control in future.

Supporting material

The learning report was based on a large research study, which included a review of the literature. Details of the papers included in the literature review are available in an accopmanying document.

Included within the report is a timeline of selected interventions to reduce health care associated infections and improve infection prevention and control (Figure 5). This timeline is also provided as an accompanying document, along with details of references it draws on.

Both of the accopmanying documents can be downloaded from Publication options.

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