All-Party Parliamentary Group for Patient Safety 8 December 2015

MRSA Action UK Vice Chair Helen Bronstein attended the second meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Patient Safety, chaired by Andrea Jenkyns MP.

Ben Gummer MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Care Quality told the APPG further culture change within the NHS is required to improve patient safety and reduce infections, he warned that while there is a growing energy to put patient safety front and centre of the NHS, much more still needs to be done. The Minister gave examples of good practice that demonstrated how a culture shift with a clear focus on patient safety and boosting staff satisfaction can lead to enhanced care quality and efficiency in NHS Trusts.

The APPG heard from Dr Mike Durkin, Director of Patient Safety at NHS England, who emphasised a need for greater transparency across the NHS. Dr Durkin said that the NHS must be an organisation that is constantly learning, and one that places the needs of patients and their families at its core.

Dr Philippa Whitford, the SNP Health spokesperson in the House of Commons and a qualified surgeon, offered a perspective of patient safety in the NHS in Scotland and the successful Scottish National Hand Hygiene Campaign emphasising the risks to patients from infections and the vital role that everyone can play in significantly improving patient safety. Dr Whitford spoke of how colleagues were equal in the way they communicated, there was no segregation between doctors or nurses, so there is no need to even consider whistle blowing. There is open communication with teams on first name terms and everyone's input counts. Doctors needed to get away from thinking about 'curing' and embrace 'caring'.

Dr Whitford is at the forefront of Andrea Jenkyns' HandZ initiative and is fully supportive of this cross-party approach to pushing the hand hygiene agenda. Details of the launch is featured below. Photographs of the launch event are available here.

The next meeting of the APPG for Patient Safety will be held in February 2016 and will focus on two new Prevention White Papers presented by Stephen Rowley, Clinical Director of The Association for Safe Aseptic Practice, and Katherine Murphy, Chief Executive of the Patients Association.

Launch of HandZ - Saving lives through clean hands

25 November 2015 2:00 – 3:30pm
Macmillan Room, Portcullis House
Speakers: Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health
Andrea Jenkyns MP, Chair of the APPG on Patient Safety

Hand Hygiene is the foundation of all good healthcare, everyone involved in caring for patients has a responsibility to clean their hands at the right time, every time.

November 25th 2015 saw the launch of Andrea Jenkyns' hand hygiene initiative "HandZ". The launch was attended and supported by more than 50 MPs, colleagues from the Infection Prevention Society, MRSA Action UK, CMV Action, Patients Association, and the World Health Organisation.

Andrea spoke of her emotional journey and how it began four years ago on 25 November when she buried her dad after he tragically died with MRSA. Two days before he passed away they had watched the Secret Millionaire and he said he wanted to help people, he wanted to do charitable work for people who were ill with MRSA. Devastated by his passing Andrea searched to see if there were any charities that provided support for people who had been affected in this way.

Andrea found MRSA Action UK and contacted Derek Butler for help and support. This was when she became aware of the scale of the problem.

Andrea recalled the shock of seeing a nurse walk in to tend her dad whilst in hospital, the nurse did not wash her hands, put cream in his nose and went straight to another patient, again without washing her hands. Another five people had MRSA at the time of his stay in the ward.

Even more shocking was the reaction Andrea received at a conference when she stated how many lives could be saved just by doing this simple act at the right time every time. Very few people raised their hands when she asked if they agreed.

Andrea had joined Derek in running a workshop in her constituency, it was well received and the children took part in designing hand hygiene posters which were displayed in the local hospital. Andrea wished politicians at all levels to be involved from all parties and replicate this approach.

The campaign will begin in schools with plans to take this to hospitals in the spring and to Care Homes. There will be events on Global Hand Hygiene Day – held annually on October 15th. Andrea was pleased with the support for the launch. Materials were available to take away and had been produced by Deb and were also available on the campaign website.

Professor Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer, addressed the event and spoke of how she was delighted to support Andrea's campaign and MRSA Action UK. She spoke of how this had come from conviction and pain. Dame Sally said "We are trying to tackle antimicrobial resistance. The impact is massive with people dying every day all around the world. Just this week the news of a strain of bacteria resistant to Colistin emerging in China was in the headlines. This has frightening consequences with the resistance being able to pass horizontally, we need focus on prevention, and prevention is underpinned by washing hands."

Dame Sally spoke of how we failed in the noughties, then witnessed MRSA starting to come down. But the focus is needed not just in the healthcare setting, it's in the community. We need to promote vaccination. Flu is often followed by bacterial chest infections, reducing the incidence of flu will reduce the need for antibiotics to treat complications. In 1918 more people died from the infections that followed the flu than the flu itself.

"Hand washing is key when we prepare food or when we go to the loo. - Let's start with our children, who better than to pass on the message, who is going to argue when they say "hey dad, hey mum, you should be doing this"

"The HandZ campaign is so important. Singing the ABC song to wash your hands - so simple.

There is a big push following antibiotics awareness week with antibiotic guardians signing up. We will see many more deaths if we do not reduce infections as far as we can. We will save lives."

MPs and peers will be joining the campaign. Andrea introduced Emma Reynolds MP, whose mum suffered with Clostridium difficile. Emma spoke of how MPs can go out into the community to promote this.

Dr Phillipa Whitford MP spoke of the public inquiry in the Vale of Leven. Prolonged use of broad spectrum antibiotics was at the heart of igniting the Clostridium difficile outbreak.

Dr Whitford spoke of hand hygiene champions who watch what happens and report on non-compliance, figures are put up at the door of the wards. She said "We must not waste what few antibiotics that we have. Thanks to Claire Kilpatrick who designed the campaign materials for encouraging hand hygiene in Scotland. We are working across all parties and will be able to share ideas."

Derek spoke of how he always remembers how he felt when he lost his stepfather to MRSA. He always does whatever he can to support people in the position Andrea found herself in when her dad died after contracting MRSA. The photographs of Clive Jenkyns at the end of his life were shocking and had a huge impact on Derek. Derek spoke of the influence his stepfather John had on him and had made the promise that his loss would not be in vain. Derek's political hero is John Reid.

Ten years ago today members of the newly founded charity MRSA Action UK were in this very room telling the then Chair of the Health Select Committee about their experiences asking "What are you going to do about it?"

When John Reid set a target to reduce MRSA by half, healthcare professionals – including infection preventionists – said this was impossible. The year 2004 saw MRSA spiralling out of control, C.diff was increasing. Derek said that when he was an apprentice at BAE he had been told there is no such word as "can't" and was to take it out of his vocabulary. Well this proved to be right as far as MRSA bacteraemia were concerned. With determination, belief and concerted effort MRSA bacteraemia reduced significantly. But it's not over, there is still more to do.

"Good hand hygiene performed at the right time is the single most effective way of halting the spread of infection, and, as Dame Sally said, who is going to argue with their children? When they come home and tell their families that they should be doing this would you argue? Maria has a granddaughter Ava and I wouldn't argue with her."

"Congratulations to Andrea for pushing this and getting the cross-party support. I wish her well and hope this campaign will be a catalyst to improve infection prevention practice everywhere, making everyone realise the significance that good hand hygiene can make in saving lives and preserving the antibiotics we need for safe healthcare and for humanity. Remember that none of us are immune and everyone will need healthcare in the future."

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