Infection Prevention & Control

Our Infection Prevention and Control (IP&C) Team is committed to preventing infection and ensuring patient safety and comfort. We minimise the risk of healthcare-associated infections (HCAIs) such as MRSA and C. difficile. The Trust continues to be among the best performers in the region for keeping infections rates low.

Our Infection Prevention and Control Team is made up of:

Working together, the team aims to ensure that a seamless service is provided for patients.

Please click here to view the Annual Infection Prevention and Control Report for 2017/18.

Hospital infection prevention and control performance

The risk of getting an infection while in hospital is low, but patients can be vulnerable as they are already in poor health. We are involved in staff training, identifying problems, and offering advice and support on the care of individual patients and the management of infection across the Trust. Our success in preventing infection is reliant upon the commitment of staff, patients and visitors.

We operate several policies and run initiatives to reduce the risk of infection. These include a ‘bare below the elbows’ policy and Global Hand Washing Day activities to encourage good hand hygiene.

If you have a planned appointment but have had sickness or diarrhoea, an unexplained rash or another suspected infection, please contact the ward or department you are visiting to seek advice. We may need to rearrange your appointment to avoid spreading infection.

How can you help?

Patients can help by:

  • Washing hands regularly, especially at mealtimes and after visiting the bathroom;
  • Using the hand wipes provided before all meals – you can always ask a member of staff if you require a new pack;
  • Making staff aware of any infections you may already have, particularly if you have been treated with antibiotics;
  • Discouraging friends and relatives from visiting if they are unwell with an infection – they may pose a risk to other patients;
  • Informing staff if you are concerned about the cleanliness of any area of the ward or hospital;
  • Following advice given to you by ward staff, particularly when it refers to wound dressings or medical equipment;
  • Using the alcohol hand rub when attending outpatient appointments.

Visitors can help by:

  • Not visiting if you are feeling unwell, have a cold or cough, or have had any symptoms of sickness or diarrhoea in the last 48 hours;
  • Washing hands and using the alcohol hand rub when entering and leaving the ward areas;
  • Adhering to our visiting times and the number of visitors allowed (usually two);
  • Where possible, don’t bring children aged 12 years and under onto the wards, as they can be susceptible to infection;
  • Not sitting on patients’ beds, please use the visitors’ chairs provided.

Patients in hospital can be vulnerable to infections and it’s easy to transfer germs. If you’re due to visit a friend or relative but are concerned about spreading infection, please telephone the ward in advance.

Hand hygiene

Your hands may look clean but the germs that cause infections cannot be seen by the naked eye. If you could look at your hands through a microscope you might get a nasty surprise.

Germs can be spread by touch and so washing your hands is one of the easiest ways of reducing the spread of infection. We have alcohol hand rub dispensers outside all of our wards and encourage staff and visitors to help us fight infection by washing their hands thoroughly and using the alcohol hand rub when they enter and leave clinical areas.

It is essential to wash your hands:

  • After going to the toilet
  • Before touching food and eating
  • If they look or feel dirty
  • After coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose
  • Before and after handling medical devices such as catheters

If your illness makes hand washing difficult, then please ask the nurses for assistance.

Our staff wash their hands regularly, and you are welcome to ask if they have cleaned their hands before they examine you. We endeavour to do our best to protect you from infection but we need your help, so please clean your hands!

What are we protecting against?


MRSA stands for meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. The Staphylococcus aureus bacteria is naturally present in the skin and nasal passages. Over time, the bacteria has, in some cases, become resistant to the meticillin range of antibiotics. Therefore MRSA is often called a ‘superbug’.

MRSA can be present on an individual without causing health issues. However, it can cause real problems when it enters a wound or break in the skin. Due to the invasive nature of hospital treatments, MRSA can cause serious problems and deep infections in hospitals.

Some people, including young babies, the elderly, patients who’ve undergone operations, and people who have needed several courses of antibiotics, are more susceptible to MRSA than others. We offer MRSA screening to patients who are at a risk of infection.

MRSA is often passed by hand contact, so it’s important to wash hands before and after visiting hospital. Please don’t touch medical devices or sit on patients’ beds.

At the Trust, we endeavour to provide a side room for those people who are found to have MRSA. All staff nursing the patient must wear protective clothing to prevent the spread of infection to other patients.

The incidence of MRSA bloodstream infection is published by Public Health England.

Clostridioides difficile

Clostridioides difficile is a bacteria that is often related to treatment by antibiotics. The toxins produced by the bacteria can cause diarrhoea and/or damage to the lining of the bowel.

The Clostridioides difficile bacteria can remain in the environment for long periods of time if rigorous cleaning is not carried out. It can be passed to people through unwashed hands or by touching contaminated surfaces. Older people and those with a low resistance to infection are most at risk, and symptoms can include diarrhoea, abdominal pain and fever.

The best way to prevent Clostridioides difficile from spreading is to clean hands thoroughly. Patients with Clostridioides difficile are nursed in a side room to ensure their speedy recovery and prevent the spread of infection. All staff and visitors entering the room need to take enhanced infection prevention and control precautions.

Targets for Clostridioides difficile infection are set and monitored by Public Health England. The incidence of Clostridioides difficile infection is published by Public Health England.

Viral Gastroenteritis

Gastroenteritis is inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. Viral gastroenteritis is an infection that causes vomiting and/or diarrhoea. Types of viral gastroenteritis include rotavirus, norovirus and adenovirus.

Hand-to-mouth contact is the principal cause for these viruses spreading. People can become contaminated by shaking the hands of an infected person or by touching a surface that hasn’t been cleaned sufficiently. Proper hand washing and cleaning are essential to contain the spread of infection.

In most cases, a person with diarrhoea will be nursed in a cubicle until infection has been ruled out, or they have recovered. During an ‘outbreak’ it may be necessary to nurse all patients with similar symptoms together. Isolation nursing is carried out until a person is free from symptoms for 48 hours and the frequency and consistency of the bowel movements have returned to normal.

Please do not visit any of our ward or departments if you have had symptoms of diarrhoea and/or vomiting in the last 48 hours.

Key staff

Doctor, Infection Prevention and Control: Lauren Heath

Matron, Infection Prevention and Control and TB Service: Sonya Ashworth

Team Lead, Hospital Infection Prevention and Control: Amanda Gooch

Team Lead, Community Infection Prevention and Control: Sharon Oyston

Patient Leaflets