03 September 2004
The NHS could save 450 lives and £140m a year under an initiative aimed at cutting hospital-acquired infections, according to the National Patient Safety Agency.
The Department of Health quango said the initiative, which includes the introduction of alcohol-based disinfectant gel dispensers by every bed, would encourage staff to clean their hands between each patient.
In a six-month study, hand cleaning between patient contacts increased from 28% to 76% following the dispensers' introduction. The initiative was backed with campaigns to raise staff awareness and encourage patients to ask if staff had cleaned their hands. The DoH said the study suggested 450 fewer patients a year would die and the NHS would save £140m through earlier discharge.
Julie Storr, the NPSA's infection control assistant director, said disinfectant gels were more convenient than traditional hand washing.
'In all the hospitals that piloted the campaign, these measures proved highly popular with both staff and patients,' she added.