Consultant Junior doctor SAS doctor Northern Ireland

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Call to maintain hygiene standards

Doctors leaders have called for investment in the infrastructure of the health service to help reduce healthcare-associated infections.

BMA Northern Ireland is set to respond to a public consultation on the Draft Policy for Cleaning Provision and Management in the Health and Social Care Sector.

BMA Northern Ireland consultants committee chair Stephen Austin said: ‘We have initiatives such as the bare-below-the-[elbow] policy, which is engrained in doctors’ minds but that doesn’t mean we should be complacent. We should always be looking at ways to improve things.’

Dr Austin said hygiene levels could not be maintained in some health service facilities in Northern Ireland because they were too outdated.

BMA Northern Ireland has highlighted the environment at Antrim Health Centre in recent weeks, where the sewers are emptied through a hose that is dragged across the waiting-room carpet.

Duty to population

Dr Austin continued: ‘We need to address the infrastructure and ensure there is adequate investment so that we have facilities that are fit for the 21st century.’

Launching the policy earlier this month, Northern Ireland health, social services and public safety minister Edwin Poots said he was committed to improving and sustaining levels of cleanliness in healthcare settings.

‘We have come a long way in the prevention and control of infection in our facilities, but more must be done,’ he said.

‘We have a duty to our population to do everything we can to eliminate preventable infections altogether.’

The Northern Ireland department of health, social services and public safety said the policy aims to help trusts to provide the best possible services for patients, visitors and staff, reinforce best practice and audit-control measures and bring some regional consistency to cleanliness in the health service.

Mr Poots said: ‘I am confident that the proposals in this draft cleaning policy will go even further towards achieving best practice and restoring public confidence in our hospitals.’