HC Deb 17 January 2001 vol 361 c248W
Mr. Heald

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what assessment he has made of the link between hospital cleanliness and the frequency of occurrence of infection in patients; and if he will make a statement; [145743]

(2) what cost savings he estimates the NHS will make by reason of a reduction in the frequency of occurrence of infection in patients as a result of his recent initiative on hospital cleanliness; and if he will make a statement. [145787]

(3) what estimate he has made of the future costs to the NHS of an increased frequency of occurrence of infection in patients as a result of a lack of hospital cleanliness. [145744]

Mr. Denham

[holding answer 16 January 2001]: Recent research at Thames Valley University has identified, through clinical evidence, links between poor environmental hygiene and the transmission of microorganisms causing hospital-acquired infection. It has not been possible to make any meaningful assessment relating to cost savings, because of the lack of clear evidence on the connection between dirty hospitals and the rates of hospital-acquired infection.

Patients have a right to be treated in a hospital that has a high standard of cleanliness. No one should be treated, or, have to recuperate, in a dirty or uncared for environment. An initiative to improve standards of cleanliness in hospitals is now well underway. An inspection of 405 National Health Service acute trusts was carried out last year. Unannounced visits to these trusts are taking place now and will be completed by the end of February. These visits will help us establish what has been done and what improvements still need to be made. We will ensure that standards of cleanliness are improved, and more importantly, that they are maintained in the future.