Infections ‘a major issue in EU hospitals’

November 11th, 2015 Category: Local Authority & Housing

Infection rates are a major problem among many hospitals across Europe, new research has shown.

Findings published by the World Health Organisation (WHO) revealed that of every 100 hospitalised patients in developed countries, seven will acquire at least one healthcare-associated infection (HAI).

This is only slightly higher than in developing countries, where ten out of every 100 patients will contract HAIs.

WHO estimates that HAIs kill 16 million patients. A report published in the European Cleaning Journal (ECJ), cited research by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDPC), which found that in the EU alone, approximately 4.1 million patients per year acquire infections.

The number of deaths occurring due to these infections is estimated to be over 37,000.

Furthermore, the data showed that HAIs are thought to be the cause of 110,000 deaths each year.

Although these findings are concerning, the analysis does show that many of these infections are preventable.

In fact, the figures revealed that 20–30 per cent of healthcare-associated infections can be avoided.

By introducing intensive hygiene and control programmes, hospitals can cut down on the risk of infections spreading.

The ECJ analysis also showed that cleaning contractors in hospitals have often been trained to understand and mitigate the circumstances that can result in the spread of pathogens.

However, when proper care and attention is not paid, then the impact of an outbreak in a hospital can extend far beyond the affected patients. According to the study, people are much less likely to want to eat or spend time in a venue where people have become ill.

This could impact future profitability, business, trust and reputation. Therefore, for this reason, it is essential that hospitals and healthcare settings put in place strict hygiene control and risk prevention strategies.

Commercial cleaning

A campaign to improve the working conditions of cleaners has been kickstarted.

An industry-led taskforce was set up by the Equality and Human Rights Commission to provide contracts to staff, improve working conditions and pay sickness or holiday leave entitlements.

For example, many cleaning staff are women from developing countries who spoke of being treated very poorly in relation to other cleaners.

Speaking about the campaign to boost the working conditions for cleaners, Caroline Waters, equality and human rights commissioner and taskforce chair, said: "The commission's role is to promote and enforce the laws that protect our rights to fairness, dignity and respect. It has been a great privilege to have worked over the past year or so with so many people who are committed to improving the working conditions of cleaning operatives."

To promote their campaign, the industry body has produced a poster to highlight the value of cleaning operatives.

It has also created Your Rights at Work postcards and sent them to workers to explain their employment rights.