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Cuts to infection prevention put government targets in doubt

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Government wants to cut infection by 50% Government targets aim to cut infection by 50% in time for 2020/21

A ‘serious risk to patient safety’ is imminent due to cuts in infection control services, according to a survey from the Infection Prevention Society (IPS).

Polling its members, the IPS reveal almost a third (30%) have seen a reduction in infection prevention and control (IPC) services where they work, with 28% reporting a reduction in the number of IPC posts or hours. Over a third (35%) of surveyed members told the IPS they had been asked to carry out additional responsibilities not related to IPC as part of their work.

The IPS estimated that 300,000 patients were afflicted with a healthcare-associated infection in England each year. This is estimated to cost the NHS at least £1 billion a year.

IPS president Dr Neil Wigglesworth said: ‘There is clear evidence that early intervention through infection prevention saves lives as well as significant cost to the NHS. While some hospitals and healthcare providers recognise this, with 65% of our members reporting that infection prevention services are being extended or maintained, others are cutting back.

‘This will have an inevitable impact on patient safety and could cause significant disruption to health service delivery. We need NHS leaders and commissioners to maintain investment and help us reach our goals.’

Last year, the government said it wanted to reduce healthcare-associated blood infections, such as E. coli, by 50% by 2020/21. The IPS detailed how IPC teams will be central to achieving this vision.

IPC teams would be expected to work with clinical teams and managers to investigate cases of bacteraemia, prevent avoidable infections such as catheter associated urinary tract infections and educate all healthcare workers about the threat from infections and how to prevent them.

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