- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -

Find a job

Subscribe for free

All things Pharma

Time to clean up the NHS

Time to clean up the NHS

On Target reports on the 2006 AfPP Congress and examines one of the event’s key themes.

Hospital infection is an “insult to patients”, a conference audience was told at this year’s Association for Perioperative Practice (AfPP) Congress in Harrogate. Addressing the nationwide plague of healthcare associated infections proved to be a central theme at the 2006 Congress, underlined by a keynote speech that set out the Government’s strategy for eradicating this problem.

Janice Sigsworth, Deputy to the Department of Health’s Chief Nursing Officer, warned that the NHS needs to undergo a dramatic cultural change if it is to achieve its goal of ‘no avoidable infections’. In keeping with the Congress’s ‘Circles of Influence’ theme, Sigsworth said that the solution lay in collective responsibility throughout the NHS, with all staff from director level downwards playing an active role in maintaining a clean and safe clinical environment.

Sigsworth – a late-stage replacement for the Chief Nursing Officer, Chris Beasley – pinpointed the Government’s Saving Lives Programme as one of the major drivers for reversing the current trend of complacency regarding infection, and so restoring public confidence.

“The current NHS culture accepts infection as a norm,” she said. “We have become very complacent, to the point where infection has become a by-product of hospitalisation episodes. At what point does an infection become acceptable? Have we lost the will to meet this challenge? Our goal should be no avoidable infection.”

A shared responsibility

The Saving Lives Programme sets out to engage NHS staff from grass-roots level through to senior management, encouraging ownership of the problem and commitment to reducing MRSA and other hospital infections. Of course, the burden of MRSA has financial as well as health implications for the NHS. Each healthcare-associated patient infection costs the NHS £4,000–£10,000, and can adversely affect elective surgery.
Sigsworth warned that Trusts that do not have proactive measures in place to reduce infection rates will risk being shunned by patients, and that PCTs are entitled not to maintain contact with organisations that fail to put cleanliness at the top of their agenda. Subsequent questions from the audience raised some familiar issues: the conflict between hygiene priorities and economic pressures on time and resources; the lapses in safety that are widespread in NHS secondary care; the frequent differences in attitude between doctors and nurses in the theatre; and the legal and safety problems incurred through repeated use of designated singleuse products.

In answering these questions, the speaker placed consistent emphasis on “changing the culture” and the guiding role of the new Code of Practice. However, her audience may well continue to fear that when money talks, perioperative – and healthcare industry – professionals will not be heard.

Circles of influence

Visitors to the 2006 AfPP Congress could see the formidable range of tools, services and programmes that exists to tackle hospital infections and other crucial issues for today’s healthcare.

The five halls of the Exhibition in Harrogate, which this year contained over 200 exhibitors, showcased a plethora of companies whose services focused on decontaminating the NHS. In addition, companies specialising in medical devices, hospital equipment and clothing, diagnostics and healthcare recruitment promoted their services to more than 2,300 attendees, many of whom are nurses in the perioperative environment.

Over the four days of the Congress, a total of 81 speakers from the NHS and the DH addressed the AfPP membership on infection control and other key topics such as health and safety, the patient-led NHS and meeting healthcare standards. The Congress showed the circles of influence in the medtech industry and the NHS spreading and interacting.

Jane Reid, Chairman of the AfPP, was delighted with the event. “AfPP’s Congress and Exhibition again surpassed all expectations,” she said. “We have shown those working in the perioperative health sector how to extend their circles of influence, and we have provided a showcase for medical device companies to exhibit their latest products to those who purchase or influence purchasing decisions.

“Most importantly,” Reid concluded, “all the factors that make AfPP’s Congress and Exhibition the key event in the perioperative calendar combine to ensure patient care is the main beneficiary of our Congress. That is why our circles of influence are important to us.” 

- Advertisement -
Previous articleThe safe road TO SALES
Next articleSelling to Dr Grumpy


- Advertisement -



Sign up to receive your free UK subscription to Pf Magazine and our digital newsletters, for all the essential headlines, Jobs of the Week, and thought-provoking features.

Claim my free subscription