To mark the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) annual Hand Hygiene Day, which takes places this week (May 5), the Southern Health and Social Care Trust is reminding staff, patients, clients and visitors of the importance of hand hygiene.
The Trust’s infection prevention and control team has teamed up with pharmacy, microbiology and biomedical science colleagues to promote this year’s ‘Save lives: Clean Your Hands’ campaign which is the role of hand hygiene in combatting antimicrobial resistance.
Stands were set up in the foyers of Daisy Hill and Craigavon Area hospitals where people were invited to see how well they washed their hands under an ultra-violet light box, called the ‘glow germ.’
Staff showed the difference in bug growth between hands that have been washed and those that haven’t.
Infection prevention and control nurses demonstrated the recommended seven-step handwashing technique for all healthcare staff and a range of information was available on hand washing, use of antibiotics and other infection prevention and control precautions.
Dr Martin Brown, Consultant Microbiologist, said: “Antibiotics are important medicines in treating infections caused by bacteria.
“However, bacteria can adapt and become resistant to antibiotics, especially when exposed to them. The use of antibiotics is therefore associated with the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bugs such as MRSA and C-difficile.
“As antibiotic-resistance has become such a concern in healthcare, it is important to only use antibiotics when appropriate and to follow the correct instructions when using them.
“The onus is on doctors to follow the correct prescribing protocols and for patients to follow the instructions properly.
“For example, antibiotics are not necessary for viral infections like common coughs and colds. They should only be needed for bacterial infections and if prescribed you should always take the recommended dose and complete the full course.”
Colin Clarke, Lead Nurse for Infection Prevention and Control for the Southern Trust said: “The Southern Trust continues to have some of the lowest levels of healthcare associated infection and hand hygiene is always an important priority for our staff but this campaign is an opportunity to reinforce the message more broadly.
“Simple but thorough hand hygiene is one of the easiest ways to help reduce healthcare associated infections.
“So we remind everyone whether you are staff, a patient, client, carer or visitor to please play your small but important part in tackling infection by washing your hands and making use of the hand rub that is widely available throughout our facilities.”