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It is the responsibility of all healthcare staff to minimise the potential risk of patients acquiring a healthcare-associated infection in any care setting. Healthcare-Associated Infections or HCAIs, affect an estimated one in ten NHS hospital patients each year. These infections are costly, adding 3-10 days to a patient’s length of stay in the hospital and for  Clostridium Difficile, that stay will be even longer. Financially it can cost £4,000 - £10,000 more to treat a patient with an infection.

The Department of Health offers guidance and support the reduction of healthcare-associated infections and offer guidance for minimising the risks in Primary Care Trusts, Mental Health and Learning Disability Trusts and the independent healthcare sector. The NHS Operating Framework for 2008/9 identified that improving cleanliness and reducing healthcare-associated infection was one of the NHS’s top priorities. 

Providers of services are required to have systems in place to reduce risks to patients. The Health & Social Care Act 2009 covers infection control policies and the requirements that need to be followed.  You can find out more about this by reading the document called “Code of practice for health and adult social care on the prevention and control of infections and related guidance”

Having effective infection control policies and all staff and visitors following these policies can greatly reduce the number of infections, reduce admission times and cost to the NHS. Over previous years it is proven that following infection control policies do work and you must ensure that you know your local policies and follow them.  If in any doubt, ask your manager.