Westminster Health Forum keynote seminar

Healthcare Associated Infections and Patient Safety

20th May 2008

Local Government House, Smith Square, London SW1P 3HZ


Janice Stevens

Director, MRSA/Cleaner Hospitals Programme, Department of Health


The Westminster Health Forum is impartial and cross-party, and has enjoyed considerable support from within Parliament and government, and more widely.  It organises senior level seminars on public policy in media and related areas.  The Forum has no policy agenda of its own. All events adhere to the Forum's core proposition of impartiality, not to the agenda of any sponsor.


This seminar examined issues around the control and tackling of HCAIs, and what more can be done to provide a better service and ensure patient safety.


The context is new figures from the Office for National Statistics reporting a 72% rise in Clostridium difficile related deaths in 2006, and the Healthcare Commission's Annual Health Check for 2008/09, which will include an in-depth look at healthcare associated infections (HCAIs).


The meeting will brought together key policy makers from government and Parliament with stakeholders to discuss how healthcare associated infections can be minimised, how this might be implemented across the NHS, and the next steps in improving patient safety.


Sessions included:

  • Latest thinking on HCAIs in the UK;
  • The involvement of different agencies in tackling HCAIs;
  • The influence of new equipment, materials and products in improving HCAI infection rates; and
  • The role of surveillance and assessment of NHS and other healthcare organisations in the prevention and treatment of HCAIs.


Speakers: Janice Stevens, Director, MRSA/Cleaner Hospitals Programme, Department of Health, and Marcia Fry, Head of Operational Development at the Healthcare Commission, will be delivering keynote addresses at this seminar.  The seminar was chaired by Andrew Lansley MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Health, and Greg Mulholland MP, Liberal Democrat Shadow Minister for Health, have kindly agreed to chair this seminar.


Around 80 people attended, including Members of both Houses of Parliament, senior government officials involved in this area of public policy, health professionals, representatives of health consumer organisations, academia, interested and affected charities and other related industries, together with representatives of the trade and national press.


A key output of the seminar will be a transcript of the proceedings, sent out by the Westminster Diet & Health Forum within a week of the event to Ministers and officials at the Department of Health and other departments affected by the issues, Parliamentarians with a special interest in these areas, and other agencies. It will also be made available more widely. It will include transcripts of all speeches and questions and answers sessions from the day, along with access to PowerPoint presentations, speaker biographies, attendee list, an agenda and sponsor information. It is made available subject to strict restrictions on public use, similar to those for Select Committee Uncorrected Evidence, and is intended to provide timely information for interested parties who are unable to attend on the day.


Forum events are frequently the platform for major policy statements from senior Ministers, regulators and other officials, opposition spokesmen and senior opinion formers in industry and interest groups. Events regularly receive prominent coverage in the national and trade press.


The forum was very useful for networking and MRSA Action UK contributed to the discussions around some of the issues the Charity deals with through contact with patients.  There were opportunities to emphasise concerns about non-compliance with hand hygiene, the lack of skill shown across the healthcare setting with regard to aseptic technique, including in the Primary Care setting, and better prescribing of passing on of information in the community setting.  There was a need for the Royal Colleges and education providers to recognise that very basic functions that can help prevent the acquisition of infection is vitally important in the training of healthcare professionals.  We took the opportunity to share good practice and have asked that the Westminster Health Forum pass on the information provided on Integrated Care Pathways for people contracting a healthcare infection.  Joined up thinking following the patient through their treatment journey, both prior to and post admission to hospital is important.


Feedback from the Westminster Health Forum will be shared with members when this is published.


Maria Cann



Derek Butler


MRSA Action UK


Westminster Health Forum Website