The ‘Cleanyourhands’ campaign has had an “important role” in reducing the rates of most healthcare associated infections (HCAI) in hospitals across England and Wales, a study suggests.
The national campaign was launched in January 2005 in response to concern over high levels of HCAIs such as Staphylococcus aureus infection - meticillin resistant (MRSA) and meticillin sensitive (MSSA) - and Clostridium difficile infection that spread through contamination of healthcare workers hands.
Researchers from University College London (UCL) Medical School and the Health Protection Agency (HPA) studied the impact of the ‘Cleanyourhands’ campaign every three months across all 187 acute NHS hospital trusts between 2005 and 2009.
The study, published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), found the amount of soap and alcohol hand rub made available tripled from 21.8 to 59.8 ml per patient bed day as hospitals were encouraged to remind healthcare workers to clean their hands on a regular basis.
Furthermore, MRSA infections fell from 1.88 to 0.91 cases per 10,000 bed days while C difficile infections fell from 16.75 to 9.49 cases during the four-year study period.
MSSA infection rates did not fall.
“The study suggests that national infection control interventions, including a hand hygiene campaign, undertaken in the context of a high profile political drive, can successfully reduce selected healthcare associated infections,” said the researchers.
The researchers also acknowledged that publication of the Health Act 2006 and visits to hospitals by DH improvement teams also helped drive down the number of HCAIs.