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UHSM reduces infection with high-profile campaign

“Using our own staff brings the message closer to home, so it is absolutely clear to everyone that this is an issue that affects them, their colleagues and their patients. It also demonstrates ownership and commitment by people at all levels of the organisation to infection prevention.”
Susan Osborne
Director of Communications

Infection Prevention is everyone’s responsibility - this is the message that UHSM is driving home to all its staff, patients, visitors and members of the public too. For the past 12 months, UHSM, the trust that operates Wythenshawe Hospital, has been working hard to reduce the rates of hospital associated infections (HCAIs) including MRSA and Clostridium Difficile.

UHSM Chief Executive Julian Hartley says: “We know that anxiety amongst the public regarding contracting infections in hospitals is high, and whilst patient safety is always a priority for UHSM, preventing infections now has a much higher awareness amongst staff than ever before following our campaign called ‘Infection Prevention – It’s everyone’s responsibility’.

The high-profile campaign has been running for 12 months and is a constant reminder to staff, patients and visitors of the need to be vigilant and ‘hygiene aware’. The campaign focuses on the need for good hand hygiene, both washing hands and using the alcohol hand gel dispensers around the hospital, and calls on staff to strictly adhere to UHSM’s ‘bare below the elbows’ dress policy for clinical areas.

The concept for the campaign was developed by UHSM Communications Department following national research which showed that barriers to good infection prevention techniques included lack of leadership and lack of belief that individual efforts made a difference. This campaign challenges these perceptions by using UHSM’s own staff, from all areas of the Trust, including Board members, clinical directors, surgeons through to scientists, clerical staff, domestics and porters - demonstrating that all staff, no matter who they are or what their role, are required to help prevent infections.

Director of Communications, Susan Osborne, says: “Using our own staff brings the message closer to home, so it is absolutely clear to everyone that this is an issue that affects them, their colleagues and their patients. It also demonstrates ownership and commitment by people at all levels of the organisation to infection prevention.”

The Trust’s figures for HCAIs since the launch of the campaign show just how effective the campaign is. UHSM’s cases of hospital acquired MRSA (to the end of February 2010) have seen a 61% reduction compared to the number of cases we had at this point 12 months ago. The rate of C. difficile infections is down 53% on the same period last year.

The latest element of the campaign is the ‘Beat It’ video – a low-cost video production by UHSM’s Communications Department featuring members of staff from right across the Trust singing re-worked lyrics to Michael Jackson’s ‘Beat It’ with a clear infection prevention message.

Susan adds: “We know that some people might think that a video is a bit superficial, but actually there is a really serious message behind this video – beating infections is our responsibility and it saves lives. We feel that our reductions in both MRSA and C. difficile rates are a huge achievement and extremely important in the eyes of our patients. We have found that video is a really effective way of communicating with our staff and with people outside the Trust and, as we can play it to many different audiences day after day and disseminate using our intranet and website, it represents a good return on our investment. Already, we are starting to get requests from other Trusts and organisations across the UK asking to copy the idea – we are delighted to share it with them. The Beat It video is a reminder to all of our staff about the role they have to play in keeping down infection rates.”

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