Public Service Events - Infection Control Working together to fight infection
    6th October 2010, The Barbican, London

The focus of work in infection prevention and control has traditionally been on acute hospitals, but many infectious diseases can spread in other care settings within the wider community. The event's aim was to broaden the perspective on the prevention and control of healthcare associated infections, not just in hospitals, but across care homes, ambulances, and primary medical care.

Featuring several key case studies from across the health and social care sector, providing delegates with practical advice on processes, techniques and technologies that have been effective, Infection Control: working together to fight infection gave delegates the opportunity to hear about the need for the application of standards in infection control across all care settings, and the continued need for innovative technology in fighting infection. Delegates heard from Juliet Magee, Infection Control lead at Bedford Hospital on the way staff have developed a culture of zero tolerance to avoidable infections from Board to Ward.

Regulators need to be making recommendations and Ministers need to continue to invest in infection prevention and control.

Dr Ian Hossein facilitated the event where there was a strong focus on leadership. The morning session was thought provoking with the keynote address from Dr Jean-Yves Mallard assessing the efficacy of cleaning to remove pathogens from the environment.  A study had been conducted on antibacterial wipes, and the findings suggest that whilst they can be efficacious, their use should be treated with caution.  Some wipes contained quaternary ammonia compounds (QACs) which are not sporicidal, therefore manufacturers' claims should be backed by scientific data. 

Neil Woodford's presentation featured the recent publicity on NDM-1. It wasn't a superbug, but an enzyme that rendered bacteria multi-resistant.  Derek Butler asked if NDM-1 could render all antibiotics as ineffective. Dr Woodford explained that the enzyme was still responsive to polymexin, ticycline, phosphomycin, and probably chloramphenicol, there did need to be strategies to produce anti-gram negative antibiotics. Guidelines were needed, we had no data on colonisation or infection and it would be advisable to screen anyone who had previously had an infection and possibly people who had travelled and received care in affected countries. Rapid testing and isolation of patients to contain the spread would be necessary to halt NDM-1's assault.

The afternoon session included presentations by Andy Bates, Assistant Director of Infection Prevention and Control, West Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Trust and Jane Summers, Infection Control Lead, Care Homes for Berkshire East Community Health Services.

Juliet Magee, Lead Infection Control Nurse, Bedford Hospital presented "stealth transformation leadership in a transactional world" which outlined how far Bedford Hospital had come using transformational leadership to turn around performance. 

Bedford Hospital had had problems with MRSA bacteraemias and Clostridium difficile, but through good leadership and a strong team of champions, they had reduced infections by 91% over five years. Training and infection awareness activities were promoted in an inspiring way, that included some fun activities for staff at all levels and for visitors.  Getting staff involved in hand hygiene awareness and getting light boxes onto wards to test the effectiveness of staff's technique were just some of the things that Bedford Hospital have done.  Weekly operational meetings with staff from the PCT were in place to link in beyond the acute hospital setting.  Juliet acknowledged the work of her team who had helped drive the improvements in Bedford Hospital and make a difference. 

For transformational leadership to make a difference it is assumed: People will follow a person who inspires them. A person with vision and passion can achieve great things. The way to get things done is by injecting enthusiasm and energy.  The shared vision needs a plan or it is just a dream.  The training and support that has been developed at Bedford Hospital has enabled staff to take up the zero tolerance approach to avoidable infections, and the ethos that every infection matters.

Juliet acknowledged MRSA Action UK in her presentation, Derek joins in with the activities on Bedford Hospital's patient safety open day aimed to support staff, visitors and patients, this year will be the fourth year that MRSA Action UK has been invited to take part.  This year the event will be in tandem with both Global Handwashing Day and World MRSA Awareness Month.



If you or someone you care about has been affected by a healthcare infection and you wish to discuss this with us, please contact us at