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Student nurses witnessed poor hand hygiene

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Failure to comply with hand hygiene protocols was the top hygiene concern reported by student nurses in a survey carried out by Cardiff University and London's City University.

Of the 488 students who filled out the questionnaire, 75 per cent witnessed failure to cleanse hands between patient contact, 61.2 per cent reported health workers wearing rings (in addition to wedding bands) and 60 per cent reported health workers having painted nails or nail extensions. Over half of the sample also witnessed poor standards of cleansing in the patient environment, not changing personal protective clothing between patients and poor management of sharp instruments.

Tom Sandford, RCN England Director described these results as 'worrying', reiterating that infection and cleanliness are some of the prime areas of concern for patients and their carers.

'Keeping patient areas and equipment clean must remain a priority for all healthcare staff. Vigilance and meticulous attention to infection control procedures must be maintained across the whole health service system.'

Mr Sandford continued: 'Student nurses need good role models and it is disappointing that they saw so many examples of bad practice while on their clinical placements. Infection prevention and control are serious issues that require leadership.Employers should do more to provide that leadership to healthcare staff.'

The questionnaire was posted on the RCN's website and student nurses undertaking preregistration courses across the UK were invited via an electronic link to fill it out.

The research was published in the American Journal of Infection Control and can be read in full at

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