HC Deb 22 January 2003 vol 398 cc391-2W
Mr. Burstow

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what guidelines he has issued on the use of alcoholic hand gels in the prevention of the spread of noroviruses; and if he will make a statement. [91129]

Ms Blears

Evidence based guidelines on the general principles for preventing healthcare associated infection were commissioned and funded by the Department and published in January 20011. These guidelines include the standard principles for hand hygiene and use of alcoholic hand rubs to decontaminate hands.

Chief Executives of NHS trusts were recently reminded that the incidence of gastro-enteritis increases at this time of the year and that they may wish to consult published guidance on managing outbreaks due to norovirus, previously referred to as small round structured viruses or Norwalk-like viruses2.

1Journal of Hospital Infection (2001) 47(Supplement): SI doi:10.1053/jhin.2000.0921 available at http://www.doh.gov.uk/ hai/epic.htm.2Journal of Hospital Infection (2000) 45:1–10 Article nojhin.2000.0662 available at http//www.phls.org.uk/topics az/ norwalk/hospital srsv.pdf
Mr. Burstow

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what powers have been given to ward managers to enforce rigorous cleaning standards with particular reference to powers to withhold payment from contractors or staff; and if he will make a statement on the use of these powers by ward managers to date. [91130]

Mr. Lammy

Health Service Circular HSC 2001/010, issued in April 2001, required national health service trusts and primary care trusts to ensure that all ward sisters and charge nurses have authority to ensure that the basics of care, including standards of cleanliness, are right. The circular also required that modern matrons be introduced to provide highly visible, accessible and authoritative figures.

Where problems arise with cleaning standards which ward sisters or charge nurses are unable to resolve directly, then there should be systems to address these, including the authority for matrons to instruct that payment for cleaning services be withheld.

Guidance on a system to address problems with cleaning services, including withholding of payment or termination of contracts, is set out in "Process Mapping the Housekeeper Service—A Toolkit for Change", launched in November 2002.

The exercise of these powers is a matter for local discretion, and information is not held centrally on the extent to which they have been applied.

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