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Clean hands save lives

Posted on Wednesday 9th May 2018
Clean hands save lives NCUH

The NHS is spreading the word about hand hygiene following on from the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) World Hand Hygiene Day.

Staff from the Infection Prevention Teams and Sepsis Team at North Cumbria University hospitals NHS Trust (NCUH) and Cumbria Partnership Foundation NHS Trust (CPFT) are hosting stands in hospital buildings as well as visiting staff, patients and visitors to raise awareness of the importance of hand hygiene. 

The WHO campaign ‘save lives: clean your hands’ aims to make hand hygiene a global priority, viewed as an essential life-saving action in the delivery of safe, quality care, and our health and care organisations are committed to the highest standards of practice and protecting our patients from harm. Around five million infections occur annually in European hospitals, representing an extra 25 million days in hospital and an economic burden of €13–24 billion. 

Specialist sepsis nurses will be working with the infection prevention team to promote awareness of the signs of sepsis as well as the importance hand hygiene plays in infection prevention. 

Nicola O’Reilly, matron for Infection Prevention and Control at NCUH, said: “We’re all getting behind the WHO’s campaign and want to keep pushing the message that effective hand washing saves lives. Hand washing is such a simple message to promote but has a huge impact on prevention of infections such as Sepsis.

“We have some of the lowest rates of MRSA and Clostridium difficile in the country and this is a testament to the excellent work our staff are doing with hygiene and infection prevention. 

“It’s not just staff who can get involved in the campaign, we want patients and visitors to do their bit for hand hygiene too. If all visitors coming into the hospital wash their hands or use the hand sanitisers this has a dramatic effect on the risk of spreading bacteria and infections.” 

“Campaigns like this one always get everyone engaged and are a fun way to promote a really important message. We are really looking forward to running a joint campaign with the community teams at CPFT and accessing a variety of patient settings”

At CPFT, the team will be visiting all inpatient areas and a variety of community settings during the week 5-11 May sharing best practice and posters.

Meryl Lawrenson, professional lead infection prevention and nursing at CPFT said: “We’re really looking forward to getting out and delivering the ‘clean hands save lives’ message. It’s such a simple but important campaign and our infection control staff will be on the wards of our hospitals and in the community refreshing best practice. We are also promoting our ‘hand hygiene champions’ to support training their colleagues and raising awareness of the importance of hand hygiene in clinical care.

“It’s not just lifesaving infections such as sepsis that can be prevented but hand hygiene is vital to prevent norovirus and flu.”

Washing your hands with soap and water is the easiest, most effective way to prevent the spread of bacteria and prevents the spread of illnesses such as norovirus. Washing your hands properly should take about as long as singing "Happy Birthday" twice (around 20 seconds). You can also use hand sanitisers which is effective against most bacteria and this should be used before and after entering hospital wards.  

Effective handwashing also plays a significant part in the prevention of sepsis by reducing the spread of infections. Sepsis is a potentially life threatening condition which claims the lives of six million people a year and any infection can become sepsis.