In 2005 a campaign was launched to reduce the level of so-termed ‘superbugs’ in UK hospitals. The campaign focused upon hand hygiene. A new report indicates that the initiative has been a success.
A report from the British Medical Journal, written by Dr Sheldon Stone from the Royal Free University College London Medical School, indicates that UK hospital campaigns aimed at improving the frequency and effectiveness of hand hygiene have been a success in decreasing the rate of hospital acquired infections.
The campaign was launched by the UK Labour government in 2005 as the “Clean Your Hands campaign” and it received direct government funding.
The report also indicates, as summarized by The Guardian, that the amount of hand sanitizers used has tripled over the course of the campaign (rising from 22ml per patient per day to 60ml per patient per day). This has led to incidence rates for the so-termed hospital ‘superbugs’ (those bacteria which are resistant to common antibiotics), particularly MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) and Clostridium difficile.
The key initiative was placing alcohol gels by bedsides and requiring all staff and visitors to sanitize their hands on entry and exit to hospitals wards.
Commenting on the campaign, Dr Sheldon is quoted by the BBC as saying “It's been a real British success story, we've gone from being the dirty man of Europe to being world leaders. What we need to do is keep up the momentum and stay at the forefront of world hand hygiene."
The report’s findings concluded:
“The Clean your hands campaign was associated with sustained increases in hospital procurement of alcohol rub and soap, which the results suggest has an important role in reducing rates of some healthcare associated infections. National interventions for infection control undertaken in the context of a high profile political drive can reduce selected healthcare associated.”
Despite the success of the campaign, the UK Conservative led government have ended the campaign by cutting the funding.