NHS trusts are working harder to improve their infection control standards after a sustained focus from the government, a survey has suggested.
A poll from the Healthcare Commission shows that 82 per cent of NHS staff think their trust is doing enough to promote the importance of hand washing to employees, up from 70 per cent in 2005.
The government has welcomed the figures, as it attempts to prove it has a grip on hospital hygiene.
There was also an improvement in the number of staff who were trained in infection control, from 68 per cent in 2005 to 71 per cent in 2007.
Over eight in ten staff said infection control was relevant to their job compared to 74 per cent in 2005.
But the Healthcare Commission says there is still work to be done to make sure hand washing equipment is always available, as there was a one per cent fall in the number of staff who said hand washing equipment was there when needed.
"At a time when public concern about healthcare associated infections is so high, I'm pleased to see some improvements in this area. But trusts must make sure that frontline staff always have the necessary equipment to wash their hands," said Healthcare Commission chief executive Anna Walker.
"There are trusts out there who've shown that it is possible to do this well, with as many as 82 per cent of staff saying they always had equipment available.
"But this fell to as few as 39 per cent at other trusts. Every trust should be aiming to make this 100 per cent."
Health minister Ann Keen said it is "very satisfying" that the majority of hospitals are taking infection control seriously.
"The Department of Health has made it very clear that cleanliness should be the top priority for all NHS trusts and we have invested an additional £270 million per year until 2011 to help them to do so," she added.
The Healthcare Commission's survey also found that staff were generally satisfied in their jobs, with responses consistent to previous years despite changes made to the health service.
However the poll shows that more action is needed to address violence and abuse and to improve the number of staff who feel their work is valued.