Why Is Hand Hygiene So Important for GPs?

Basic hygiene can be a matter of life and death for patients. This year, on the 5th May, the World Health Organization (WHO) called on people all over the world to practice better cleanliness with their Save Lives: Clean Your Hands campaign.

This annual event aims to raise awareness of the dangers of poor hand hygiene, starting with the healthcare industry. This year, it served as an important reminder that hand-washing is a crucial, but often overlooked, part of practice life.

Save Lives: Clean Your Hands

Each year, the WHO runs a campaign to prevent the spread of diseases through proper hand hygiene practices. Previous campaigns have focused on preventing sepsis and antibiotic resistance in a bid to achieve universal health coverage (UHC).

This year’s Save Lives campaign features various resources that practices can use to improve awareness of the importance of effective hand hygiene.

Why hand hygiene is important

Hand-washing is a basic element of everyday life. In a medical environment, however, hygiene becomes crucial. Not only does proper hygiene protect patients, but it protects staff too. At times when the risk of infection is high, such as during flu season or after a gastroenteritis outbreak, basic hand-washing can help limit the spread of infection.

In the UK, practices are monitored by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), who ensure that GP practices follow the guidelines set out to protect staff and patients. The Health and Social Care Act 2008: Code of Practice (a document that is commonly referred to as the hygiene code), provides crucial information on the prevention and control of infections, as well as related guidance. This document features useful guidance that surgeries can follow to ensure their practices are compliant.

Improving hygiene practices for GP surgeries

Save Lives: Clean Your Hands is a good reminder for all staff to review their practices and ensure that they follow the necessary guidelines.

It’s important that staff at all levels are given appropriate training to ensure they follow the CQC’s guidelines carefully. Posters and signs should be put up all around practices, especially at wash stations, to ensure that the proper hand washing techniques are followed. Regular training that covers hygiene, rare diseases and other key issues can help staff maintain exceptional levels of care. Meanwhile, the NHS has its own hand hygiene guidance document, which can be used as a policy for practice staff.

Now is also a good time to keep an eye on your supplies. By making sure that staff have access to antibacterial gels and soaps, disposable gloves and other sanitary items, practices can ensure that the risk of infection is kept to a minimum and make sure patients are treated in a clean and safe environment.

Providing the right care is essential for practices, and it starts with basics such as hand hygiene. For all of the latest news and information for the healthcare industry, make sure you follow our blog.