Healthcare establishments can be dangerous places.
While we, quite rightly, expect to go into a hospital and stroll out feeling better, there are risks involved that most of us might not have given much thought.
Indeed, Healthcare Associated Infections (HCAI) claims the lives of around 5000 patients each year, which costs the NHS £1bn over the same period.
Although not all infections can be prevented, many can be if hospitals, dentists and GP surgeries put more effort into their cleaning methods.
Put simply, sloppy hygiene causes more damage than a battered reputation – it can put the lives of vulnerable people at risk.
With norovirus – also known as the winter vomiting disease – affecting up to one million people in the UK each year, it’s quickly becoming the scourge of hospitals and care homes.
And with the government adopting a zero tolerance approach to HCAIs, it’s important healthcare establishments are up to scratch.
So what can be done to make sure?
Strategic Cleaning Plans
Given that healthcare environments are governed by strict legislation surrounding hygiene standards, a clean and safe environment to reduce risks is essential.
The Health Act 2006 code of practice places responsibility on NHS trusts to ensure the local provision of healthcare cleaning services is properly resourced and defined through a strategic cleaning plan.
In addition, healthcare establishments must be able to demonstrate how areas are kept clean – and to what standard – but without causing a detrimental effect to service delivery.
To combat infectious diseases further, Public Health England (PHE) have drawn together advanced data tools to help diagnose and keep tabs on life-threatening infections.
This big data approach will analyse genome sequences, allowing healthcare professionals to diagnose and treat viral, bacterial, fungal and parasitic diseases.
With David Cameron’s “100,000 Genome Project” promise in mind, this system could predict disease outbreaks and allow PHE to offer cost-effective and targeted public health interventions.
With over 300 terabytes of storage space earmarked for the project, researches can store and share date for around three or four months.
Julian Fielden, Managing Director of the computer solutions provider OCF, said: “The team at PHE realises the benefits of HPC (high-performance computing) and big data storage, and is using both to set the standards for the rest of the world to follow. PHE is pioneering use of DNA bacterial sequence data to provide a public service. It’s the first project of its type in the world.”