England is a world leader in the fight against healthcare acquired infections [HCAIs] but still around 300,000 people develop an infection while being cared for within the NHS in England annually. 

Antibiotic misuse means we have seen the rise of  MRSA and e-coli is developing resistance. Time is running out – healthcare leaders must see that doing nothing is not an option.

As the national health and social care charity that takes up issues on behalf of patients, relatives, carers and the public the Patients Association has overseen the enquiry into antimicrobial resistance and HCAIs and commissioned four papers on the issue. The All Party Parliamentary Group for Patient Safety will make recommendations in Spring 2016.

Tackling HCAIs effectively would reduce illness and deaths, and save the NHS millions.

Accountability and transparency are vital

HCAIs can be reduced by effective monitoring of infection control practices and increased education for healthcare staff, patients, their relatives, carers and visitors.

Accountability and transparency are vital. Figures for infection rates should show the results for NHS trusts, hospitals and individual wards and should be displayed on wards and online, so that patients and relatives can see them when choosing a hospital. This will also encourage staff to take a more proactive role in infection control.

An increase in infection control nurses, training and greater management enforcement of hygiene standards in the wider healthcare environment will also help.

Patients, relatives, carers and visitors can help by observing infection control guidelines and expressing their concerns if they see shortcomings.

We can never eliminate the risk of HCAIs completely but we can never afford to stop trying.