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Cuts to infection prevention seen as threat to patient safety

Cuts to investment in infection prevention threaten patient safety, the Infection Prevention Society says.
infection

Cuts to investment in infection prevention threaten patient safety, the Infection Prevention Society says

Cuts to investment in infection prevention threaten patient safety, a society which represents nurses and other professionals says.

The warning comes as a poll of 447 members of the Infection Prevention Society which includes nurses working in infection prevention and control (IPC) in the UK found 30% have seen a reduction in IPC services where they work.

A further 35% said they have been asked to take on additional non IPC responsibilities as part of their job. Some 29% of members who had seen cuts to IPC services in their organisation said their biggest concern associated with this was serious risk to patient safety through infection spread.

Essential practices

It is estimated

Cuts to investment in infection prevention threaten patient safety, the Infection Prevention Society says

infection
Effective control practices are essential to prevent infections spreading. 
Picture: Neil O'Connor

Cuts to investment in infection prevention threaten patient safety, a society which represents nurses and other professionals says.

The warning comes as a poll of 447 members of the Infection Prevention Society – which includes nurses working in infection prevention and control (IPC) in the UK – found 30% have seen a reduction in IPC services where they work.

A further 35% said they have been asked to take on additional non IPC responsibilities as part of their job. Some 29% of members who had seen cuts to IPC services in their organisation said their biggest concern associated with this was ‘serious risk to patient safety through infection spread’.

Essential practices

It is estimated that 300,000 patients a year in England acquire a healthcare-associated infection while being cared for in the NHS, with an estimated cost to the NHS of at least £1 billion a year.

Nurses make up 85% of the membership of the society, which said ensuring effective infection prevention and control practices in all health and care settings was an 'essential' way of preventing infection from developing and spreading. 

Infection Prevention Society president Neil Wigglesworth said: 'There is clear evidence that early intervention through infection prevention saves lives as well as significant cost to the NHS.

Inevitable impact

'While some hospitals and healthcare providers recognise this, with many members reporting that infection prevention services are being extended or maintained, others are cutting back. This will have an inevitable impact on patient safety and could cause significant disruption to health service delivery.

'We are all working to achieve the new targets to reduce E. coli and other infections, and need NHS leaders and commissioners to maintain investment and help us reach these goals.'

The government said in 2016 it wanted to see a 50% reduction in healthcare associated gram-negative bloodstream infections by 2020-21, including E. coli, alongside a renewed emphasis on hand hygiene in healthcare.

The society said IPC teams will be central to achieving this vision, working with clinical teams and managers to investigate cases of bacteraemia, by preventing avoidable infections such as catheter-associated urinary tract infections, and giving appropriate education to all healthcare workers.


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