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Infection control

We take infection prevention and control very seriously and carry out a MRSA risk assessment on all patients coming into the hospital for a planned operation. Those identified as being at higher risk of carrying MRSA will be screened. All our emergency patients are screened for MRSA on admission.

Infections such as MRSA can prolong a patient's stay and cause considerable distress to them and their families. Hospital infections can also have an impact on waiting times for other patients, can reduce the availability of NHS resources and cause sickness and absence in staff.

Not all hospital infection is avoidable but a lot of infection can be prevented. We are committed to reducing the risk of acquiring a hospital infection for patients, public and staff. Hospital acquired infections and cleanliness are key concerns for patients and the public and are, therefore, priorities for us.

With thousands of patients and visitors coming through our doors each year, maintaining a clean and safe environment is a challenge, but despite this our staff have made big efforts to improve cleanliness and compliance with infection prevention and control measures. Read our latest annual report to find out more.

Our team

Our infection prevention and control team coordinates efforts to reduce infection by focusing on hand hygiene, ward cleanliness, better detection and tracking of hospital-acquired infections, improved use of antibiotics and staff and patient education. Our matron for infection prevention and control provides the team with additional expertise and support in tackling the spread of infection. But controlling hospital infections effectively requires the support and co-operation every person who enters our hospital.

How can you help?

MRSA and other hospital infections are usually passed on by human contact, often from the skin of the hands, which is why washing and cleaning hands is so vital reducing infection rates. Hand sanitiser dispensers are placed beside every bed.

Everyone can help combat infections by following these simple hand hygiene steps:

  • Always wash hands or use the  hand sanitizer before/on entering and when leaving clinical areas (such as wards)
  • Always wash your hands after using the toilet, or before and after preparing food
  • If you are a patient, try to limit the number of visitors you have at any one time. The more people on our wards, the more the chance of infection spreading
  • If you are concerned that staff are not cleaning their hands or adhering to infection control procedures, please remind them as they may have forgotten
  • If soap or hand towels are not available, or if the bathroom and toilet facilities are not clean, please tell a member of staff
  • If you are prescribed antibiotics, make sure you finish the full course, even if you feel better part way through, as otherwise not all the bacteria will be killed and those that do survive may develop a resistance to the drug

Hand sanitiser

We actively encourage all staff and visitors to regularly clean their hands with the hand sanitiser that is available whenever they enter a ward, or before they have contact with patients. You will find hand sanitiser dispensers at the entrance to every ward and in various other locations around the hospital. Please use the hand sanitiser every time you visit a patient to minimise the risk of passing an infection onto them. It's a very simple process - just press the button on the dispenser and rub the sanitiser into your hand, taking care to cover both the palm and backs of your hands and the skin between your fingers. The sanitiser will dry in a few of seconds, and you are free to enter the ward.

Please do not hesitate to ask staff whether they have used the hand sanitiser before coming into contact with your friend or relative.

Health care associated infections (HCAIs)

Staphylococcus aureus (Staph aureus)

Staphylococcus aureus is a common skin bacterium; at any one time around a third of us have it on our skin or in our nose without any ill effects. This bacterium can cause disease, particularly if there is an opportunity for it to enter the body and the person has a weakened immune system. Illnesses such as skin and wound infections, urinary tract infections, pneumonia and bacteraemia (blood stream infection) may then develop. It can also cause food poisoning.

Meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)

Antibiotics are used to treat infections caused by bacteria. However, bacteria that are not killed by antibiotics can develop resistance enabling them to survive and multiply. Some types of Staph aureus have become resistant to certain antibiotics, which mean the antibiotics are no longer able to kill the bacteria. One such strain is resistant to meticillin (an antibiotic type commonly used to treat infections) and is therefore known as meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). 

Methicillin-sensitive Staphylococcus aureus (MSSA)

Staphylococcus aureus that can be killed by meticillin or other penicillin-like antibiotics, such as fucloxacillin, is described as meticillin-sensitive Staphylococcus aureus (MSSA).

Clostridium difficile (C.diff)

Clostridium difficile is a bacterium which is usually found in the large intestine. It is normally 'kept in check' by the 'friendly' bacteria of the gut. When some patients are prescribed antibiotics all the healthy intestinal bacteria are removed, allowing C.diff to multiply and produce toxins. These toxins cause severe diarrhoea, ranging from a mild form to a very severe illness.

Acinetobacter baumannii

Acinetobacter is a type of bacterium that is commonly found in the environment - in drinking and surface waters, soil, sewage and various different types of foods. Many healthy people probably carry these bacteria on their skin with no adverse effect. There are about 25 different types of Acinetobacter, and a few of these, particularly a species called Acinetobacter baumannii, can cause infections in hospital patients who are already unwell. Such infections can include pneumonia, bacteraemia (blood stream infection), skin and wound infections, or urinary tract infection. These 'hospital-adapted' strains of Acinetobacter are sometimes resistant to antibiotics and may be difficult to treat. 

Following simple hygiene rules (such as washing hands) can prevent the majority of the infections described below, and when patients do acquire an infection they can usually be effectively treated with antibiotics. If you have any concerns about infection prevention and control the hospital please contact our infection prevention and control team.

Contact us

Infection prevention & control team:      01702 435555 ext 6639 / 6986 / 6919 / 6988