Launch of Bedford Hospital's Hand Hygiene Awareness Week 2008
15th to 19th September 

Chief Executive, Jean O'Callaghan and Lead Nurse for Infection Control Juliet Magee gave MRSA Action UK's Derek Butler and Maria Cann a very warm welcome who were very impressed with the work going on in Bedford Hospital, where infection prevention really is everyone's business.  They were greeted by staff who gave out information on the importance of hand hygiene to everyone who came into the hospital, and there were lots of activities, opportunities and fun ways for everyone to try out their handwashing technique.

                 Maria Cann was greeted by staff giving out information to visitors about hand hygiene


Of particular interest was the bed management system, patients who have an infection or may be in the process of being screened can be isolated or cohorted so that staff are always aware that bays are in use for this purpose and are able to monitor what is happening.  The system is innovative as the patient's details are easy to track with the ability to generate a GP's letter to advise of any infection that may have been present during treatment, and what precautions to take after discharge from the hospital, this can be used to help care for the patient at home, in a nursing home or for any ongoing treatment that may be necessary as an outpatient, for example Oncology, or in a hospice where risk assessments are particularly important.


MRSA Action UK were also given the opportunity to look at the infection control training package for staff at the hospital.


The afternoon launch was attended by Dr Gopal Rao, Consultant Microbiologist at Lewisham NHS Trust, who gave a presentation on the value of surveillance and how this can bring about significant reductions in the numbers of patients with healthcare infections with the right interventions over a period of time.  It was particularly important to focus on antibiotic prescribing and to try to avoid broad spectrum antibiotics, particularly in the elderly population, if there were possibilities of a chest infection then it was important to determine what the appropriate treatment was, for example by X-Ray and other tests to establish the best course of treatment.  By focusing on this vulnerable group antibiotic resistance can be reduced over time.  Antimicrobial prescribing was unique and the only treatment that can affect the patient "in the next bed", no other form of treatment had this effect. 


Some staggering numbers were presented by Dr Rao one piece of research conducted by the World Health Organisation revealed that every day, 4,384 children die of healthcare-associated infections in developing countries. Such infections have seen the greatest increase in developing countries in the last two decades.


Derek Butler, Chair of MRSA Action UK gave a powerful presentation on the work of MRSA Action UK and a personal account of how the loss of someone to a healthcare infection has such lasting and devastating effects on families.  This was the second year Derek had visited Bedford Hospital, and as well as noting how dedicated and professional everyone was he used a quote that we are all familiar with in MRSA Action UK to describe Juliet and her team "they make infection prevention and control infectious".


We would like to thank all those at Bedford Hospital for making all their visitors extremely welcome and for their dedication and commitment to helping people understand how we can all help to prevent the spread of healthcare infections through effective hand hygiene, and that infection prevention and control is everyone's business.

Visit the Bedford Hospital website to see the excellent work going on there