The Chief Medical Officer for England, Sir Liam Donaldson, today (18 October 2007) launched the third year of the National Patient Safety Agency's cleanyourhands campaign with a message about the importance of hand hygiene to everyone involved in healthcare.
Sir Liam said: "It's absolutely vital that hand hygiene is seen as a priority by every single healthcare professional – from surgeon to nursing assistant.
"We can't succeed in the fight against healthcare-associated infections unless we address the problem by working together as a team that encompasses the entire healthcare journey, with no weak links.
The cleanyourhands campaign aims to improve the hand hygiene of healthcare workers in order to help combat healthcare associated infections. Staff are prompted to clean their hands at the critical time and place – where and when patient care is provided.
Martin Fletcher, Chief Executive of the National Patient Safety Agency, said: "Good hand hygiene is absolutely critical in the prevention of infection. We already know that cleanyourhands has made enormous headway in changing behaviour among healthcare workers, and we have worked with staff on how to build on that success with the launch of the campaign's third year.
They told us they wanted hard hitting materials that really highlight how serious the issue of healthcare associated infection is.
"But the campaign is about much more than just the materials. It's about providing practical support to help healthcare organisations fight infection, and it's also about educating, and about promoting the development of an organisational culture where individuals take personal responsibility for the delivery of safe, clean care. "
cleanyourhands has already been adopted by all acute NHS trusts in Wales and England; it's also being rolled out to other NHS organisations (ambulance trusts in England and Wales plus primary care, mental health and care trusts in England) and to care homes and hospices in Wales and England. Work is underway to test the campaign in general practice.