Northern Care Alliance launches infection prevention support measures to help reduce the risk of hospital-acquired infections

Dr Chris Brooks, Deputy Chief Executive and Chief Medical Officer
Northern Care Alliance launches infection prevention support measures to help reduce the risk of hospital-acquired infections
27 October 2020

The Northern Care Alliance NHS Group (NCA) which runs hospitals in Oldham, Bury, Rochdale and Salford is seeking to reassure patients that the group’s hospital and community sites remain safe and secure for staff, patients and visitors, despite rising COVID-19 infections in the community.

With increasing prevalence and spread of COVID-19 in local communities across Greater Manchester and the North West, the NCA is taking proactive steps to ensure its hospital and community services remain safe and secure for staff, patients and visitors.

The hospital group has launched a support package for clinical teams with a range of Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) measures that reduce the risk of outbreaks and transmission of hospital-acquired infections, and protect patients when they come to hospital or access one of the group’s community services.

Rising levels of infection within the local community are sadly starting to result in increased admissions to hospitals and a range of infection prevention and control measures have been introduced across all of the NCA’s hospital and community sites to support staff to prevent the potential spread of infection in wards and other patient-facing areas, and to protect our most vulnerable patients.

A dedicated Nosocomial (hospital-acquired) Infection Collaborative of over 100 teams across the hospital group has been set up to monitor the level of hospital-acquired infections. They have identified a support package of tried and test measures to help reduce the risk of infection.

The IPC support package focuses on tried and tested practices that wards and departments can implement to help reduce the risk of transmission of infection and concentrates on key areas including environment, general hygiene and cleanliness, use of face masks and personal protective equipment (PPE), health and safety, and patient visiting arrangements.

One of the IPC measures identified by the IPC Nosocomial Collaborative is the introduction of COVID-19 PPE champions, who will work with staff to advise on PPE and ensure that staff comply with the IPC measures put in place to protect patients and staff across all hospital and community sites.

Best practices identified to help stem the transmission of infection include:

  • Staff Room capacity audits to ensure good social distancing
  • Visual aids to remind patients and staff about the IPC measures to be followed
  • The introduction of visitor ID badges to clearly identify visitors – allowing them to be challenged if they are not complying with PPE guidance and IPC measures in place.
  • Increased and frequent cleaning times for ‘high touch’ areas where patients are undergoing multiple tests/investigations and are in contact with many different members of staff.

The new IPC support package supplements earlier infection prevention measures introduced to keep hospital and community sites safe from COVID-19. In August, the NCA introduced new infection prevention and control safety officers at its hospitals in Salford, Oldham, Bury and Rochdale in a bid to keep its hospitals and community services safe from COVID-19. The new recruits, believed to be the first in the country, are helping to ensure that wards, corridors, public areas, office spaces and community settings are supported and that staff and the public follow the hospital group’s stringent infection prevention rules. 

The NCA has recruited 24 new infection prevention and control safety officers. Recruits include a former airline steward, as well as employees from other sectors where safety has been a key requirement of their role. 

Dr Chris Brooks, Deputy Chief Executive and Chief Medical Officer for the NCA Group, explains: “Across July and August, we achieved up to 75 days without a nosocomial COVID infection at a number of our sites. This has been a tremendous achievement by our teams. But now, as we head into a second wave and prevalence of COVID-19 in our communities is increasing, we are seeing an increased risk of nosocomial COVID-19 infections across our sites.

“Our clinical teams routinely work hard to minimise the risk of all hospital-acquired infections. However, we launched our Nosocomial Infection Prevention Learning Collaborative in July to proactively support our teams to tackle the challenge of COVID-19 infections on our wards, and the support package is the result of the hard work of over 100 of our clinical teams working together to test small changes that help to avoid the transmission of infection across our wards and hospital sites. This support package has been designed using preliminary evidence to provide teams with the necessary shared learning and toolkit to reduce nosocomial infections, specifically COVID-19.

“We are united in our mission and shared purpose to achieve no nosocomial infections in any of our hospital sites and community settings. We want to reassure patients that it is safe and secure to come to hospital either as an inpatient or for a clinic appointment. We believe that if the measures identified within the support package are applied effectively and reliably across all of our wards and clinical areas the risk of a nosocomial COVID-19 infection outbreak will be reduced significantly.”

You can read more about the IPC COVID secure measures in place across the NCA’s four hospital sites for public and patients online at: www.pat.nhs.uk.