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Campaign to cut hospital infections

PUBLISHED: 09:33 08 July 2008 | UPDATED: 11:21 03 July 2010

A drive to cut down on hospital infections through handwashing is being launched this week at community hospitals in Waveney and Yarmouth.

The area's primary care trust has signed up to the national Clean Your Hands campaign, which is intended to stop infections spreading.

A drive to cut down on hospital infections through handwashing is being launched this week at community hospitals in Waveney and Yarmouth.

The area's primary care trust has signed up to the national Clean Your Hands campaign, which is intended to stop infections spreading. It is following in the footsteps of NHS Norfolk, which was one of the first primary care trusts to take it up, while the region's acute hospitals have also already done so.

Community hospitals and doctors' surgeries in Yarmouth and Waveney are even starting to get special sinks to stop the spread of infection. The taps alone cost £245 - they are specially designed so they do not harbour the legionella bacteria, which cause Legionnaire's disease. The sinks also have no overflow holes, which can harbour germs, no plugs, so hands are washed in running water, and the plughole is offset from the tap above so any bacteria already washed away are not sprayed back out by the direct force of the water.

Speaking at Beccles Hospital yesterday, Rosie Collier, infection control support nurse, said: “This is aimed particularly at staff, but we were also trying to get patients and every-body else to wash their hands more thoroughly. That is the best way of red-ucing healthcare-acquired infections.”

Staff can use alcohol gel - which does not kill the vomiting bug norovirus or the superbug Clostridium difficile - or soap and water. They are provided with hand cream because dry, cracked hands are harder to clean, and the trust has invested in softer paper towels to encourage staff to dry their hands - bacteria thrive in a moist environment.

Dawn Blunn, 20, a teaching assistant who was visiting her mother, took the handwashing test by covering her hands with an invisible gel to mimic germs, then washing her hands thoroughly and then putting them under an ultraviolet light. She was amazed to see traces of what could have been deadly bacteria around her fingernails, on her rings and on the backs of her hands.

She said: “I am really surprised. I thought I had given them a really good wash.”

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