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Joanne Bosanquet and Rose Gallagher: We must work together to prevent infection

To mark International Infection Prevention Week, specialists are calling on health professionals to join forces and make a difference 

To mark International Infection Prevention Week, specialists are calling on health professionals to join forces and make a difference

The prevention of infection is a vital part of patient safety and a central element of reducing antimicrobial resistance (AMR) by lessening the need for antibiotics.

Health professionals are under pressure to prescribe antibiotics, but if we are to protect our future health and care systems, we need to use them appropriately or risk losing the efficacy of these essential medicines.

Preventing infections in the first place is crucial. We must look at what more we could do to lead on and contribute to this global concern.

Lead by example

Nurses and midwives are the glue that binds our health and care systems together. As natural advocates in our communities on matters relating to health and well-being, we are

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To mark International Infection Prevention Week, specialists are calling on health professionals to join forces and make a difference 


Picture: iStock

The prevention of infection is a vital part of patient safety and a central element of reducing antimicrobial resistance (AMR) by lessening the need for antibiotics.

Health professionals are under pressure to prescribe antibiotics, but if we are to protect our future health and care systems, we need to use them appropriately or risk losing the efficacy of these essential medicines.

Preventing infections in the first place is crucial. We must look at what more we could do to lead on and contribute to this global concern. 

Lead by example

Nurses and midwives are the glue that binds our health and care systems together. As natural advocates in our communities on matters relating to health and well-being, we are ideally placed to champion important public health messages.

We need to lead by example and ensure our vaccinations are up to date and that we are adhering to best practice in infection prevention and control. 

This means washing our hands regularly, using tissues to cover our mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, and looking after our own physical health and well-being. We should also be encouraging uptake of the flu vaccine, in eligible patients and healthcare staff. 

But this is not just about nurses. Cross-sector collaboration is key to making a difference, and all health professionals must act together. 

Future protection

If you haven’t done so already, consider becoming an antibiotic guardian. By pledging how you will make better use of antibiotics, you could help save these life-saving medicines from becoming obsolete.

Throughout infection prevention week, we are showcasing via social media some of the important work Public Health England and other organisations, including the RCN, are doing to highlight the need to protect current and future generations. Follow us on Twitter at @PHE_uk and @TheRCN.

International Infection Prevention Week runs until October 21.

Resources 

  • Public Health England's All Our Health provides quick links to evidence and impact measures and top tips on what works, including an AMR topic.
  • The RCN provides a number of resources to support nursing professionals in the prevention of infection, and RCN professional lead for public health Helen Donovan has written a blog on protecting yourself and your patients this winter.
  • The NHS Employers' Flu fighter website has information and flu resources for those working in the healthcare sector. 

Joanne Bosanquet is deputy chief nurse at Public Health England and Rose Gallagher is RCN professional lead for infection prevention and control. 

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