Hospitals ordered to deep clean by spring

Critics claim handwashing more effective than deep cleans
Critics claim handwashing more effective than deep cleans

The health secretary has ordered all hospitals to complete anti-superbug 'deep cleans' by March 2008.

Alan Johnson today set out details of how the planned deep clean of all hospitals will work, including the extent of regional funding.

The initiative has been widely criticised as a gimmick, with the Lancet medical journal also raising concerns that the policy will do little to combat hospital superbugs.

Today's announcement appears to downplay the emphasis on deep cleans, stressing hospital hygiene is a complex problem and there is no simple remedy for infection control.

Gordon Brown announced the deep clean in October, in a bid to boost his credentials on health and address widespread patient concerns about hospital-acquired infections.

The Conservatives dismissed the plan as a gimmick, after it emerged progress would not be monitored centrally.

The government retorted at the time they were investing £50 million in the scheme and expected to see results.

In a statement to MPs today, Mr Johnson said all trusts will have to submit detailed deep-clean plans, including costs, to their primary care trusts (PCTs) and strategic health authorities (SHA).

SHAs will then report to the Department of Health (DoH).

Mr Johnson stressed the deep clean was only one element of a wider strategy, with all trusts ordered to tackle healthcare-associated infections.

Mr Johnson said:"Undertaking a deep clean is a key part of our strategy to improve cleanliness and ensure patients have confidence that their hospitals are safe.

"The strategic health authorities have now allocated funding so that hospitals can get on with the deep clean programme this winter with the aim of completing all deep cleans by the end of March 2008.

"People want an NHS that is clean and safe, the deep clean programme will help to reassure patients and build public confidence in the NHS."

Mr Johnson said patients have told him they are concerned about cleanliness and he now wanted to ensure every hospital in England aspires to be the best.

He said: "Excellent standards are what patients and staff want and should expect from our NHS."

Mr Johnson said earlier this month that the latest figures on hospital-acquired infections were "encouraging," with a fall in the number of new cases of MRSA.


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