Date Published: 5 March 2009

Homerton university hospital NHS foundation trust improves infection control practices

The Healthcare Commission today (Thursday) said that Homerton University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has made necessary improvements in infection control.

It said the trust is now compliant with the requirements of an improvement notice, issued on 22 December 2008, which required immediate changes to infection control practices.

The Commission issued the improvement notice after a two-day, unannounced visit to the trust in November 2008.

It assessed how well the trust was following the hygiene code and found serious breaches relating to the decontamination of equipment, inadequate mandatory staff training and a lack of follow up to internal audits.

The hygiene code outlines compulsory duties to prevent and manage healthcare-associated infections such as meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Clostridium difficile. All NHS trusts should be compliant with these duties.

The issuing of an improvement notice is a legal power given to the Commission by the Government in October 2006. Notices are issued only when breaches of the hygiene code are serious.

The Commission conducted a follow-up visit to Homerton University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust on 11 February 2009 to assess the trust's compliance with these duties.

The Commission found that the trust has:

* Reviewed its processes for the decontamination of endoscopes and reusable equipment, such as commodes and bedpans, and implemented a new plan.
* Improved the way the board assures itself that infection control practices are working effectively, including changes to monitoring and reporting.
* Identified staff that require mandatory update training and provided additional training to meet the needs of staff.
* Reviewed its programme of audit for infection control and its processes for ensuring that required actions are taken when issues are identified. Senior nurses are now responsible for ensuring audits are carried out and that findings and actions are reported to relevant people. The infection control committee monitors progress and escalates issues when needed.

Christine Braithwaite, head of the Commission's inspection programme, said:

"We're pleased the trust has addressed the failings of its infection prevention and control practices we identified last year.

By making these improvements, the trust has reduced the risk of infection to patients and ensured it has the ability to control infection outbreaks should they occur.

We will continue to monitor the trust to ensure that they maintain the good practice they have developed and that infection prevention and control remains a top priority."

The Healthcare Commission's inspection and subsequent follow-up at Homerton University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust is part of the biggest ever programme of inspections relating to healthcare-associated infection carried out in England.

When the Healthcare Commission ceases to exist on 1 April 2009, the new regulator, the Care Quality Commission, will continue to monitor and enforce trusts' compliance with the requirements for infection control.

The Homerton University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust provides services to Hackney and the City of London, and specialist care services across east London and beyond.


Source: The Healthcare Commission (England, UK).

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