NHS trusts to get surprise hygiene inspections

The Healthcare Commission, the healthcare watchdog, is to carry out unannounced inspections in 120 NHS trusts over the coming year in its biggest programme of visits relating to healthcare-associated infections.

The Commission will check compliance with the Government's Hygiene Code, which outlines 11 compulsory duties to prevent and manage healthcare-associated infections such as MRSA and Clostridium difficile.

The Commission will use data on rates of infection, as well as a range of other data it brings together, to identify trusts that may not be meeting requirements and carry out visits accordingly. Up to two-thirds of all acute NHS trusts will be inspected as part of this initiative.

Where the Commission identifies a breach of the Code, it will require trusts to outline an action plan to rectify problems within a specified time.

Anna Walker, chief executive of the Healthcare Commission, has written to all chief executives of the NHS trusts informing them of the programme of visits. Ms Walker said: 'Boards of all acute trusts must take notices: chances are you're going to be assessed against the Hygiene Code, so make sure you're ready.'

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