Infection prevention and control

Staying safe during your visit

It's extremely important to us to reduce the risk of infection in our hospitals and community sites, and we work hard to do this.

Preventing infection is crucial to you, your visitors and our staff's safety. We do regular audits and maintain strict standards of hygiene.

When you visit or stay in our hospitals, please follow this guidance to help keep everyone safe.

Do

Don't

  • do not ask or allow friends and relatives to visit you if they are unwell
  • do not go to our hospitals if you have any symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19 or have tested positive
  • do not go to our hospitals if you have respiratory symptoms, diarrhoea, or vomiting


Washing your hands

Washing your hands is one of the best ways to protect yourself and others from illnesses such as food poisoning, flu and COVID-19.

Even if they look clean your hands still carry germs.

You should wash your hands more often and for at least 20 seconds.

  1. Wet your hands under warm running water.
  2. Apply enough soap to cover your hands.
  3. Rub your hands together vigorously.
  4. Use one hand to rub the back of the other hand and clean in between the fingers. Do the same with the other hand.
  5. Rub the back of your fingers against your palms.
  6. Rub your thumb using your other hand. Do the same with the other thumb.
  7. Rub the tips of your fingers on the palm of your other hand. Do the same with other hand.
  8. Rinse your hands under running water.
  9. Dry your hands completely with a disposable paper towel.
  10. Use the paper towel or your elbow to turn off the tap, to avoid recontaminating your hands.

If you do not have immediate access to soap and water then use alcohol-based hand gel if available.

If using hand gel

  1. Apply one to two squirts of hand rub on your hands.
  2. Rub all surfaces of your hands together in a similar manner to steps 3 to 7 above.
  3. Do not wet your hands or wash the hand rub off. The hand rub dries in 20 to 30 seconds.

Do not assume that children know how to wash their hands. Watch how they wash their hands and teach them the correct way.

Please let our staff know if no soap, hand towels or hand rub are available and they will replace them.

When to wash your hands

Wash your hands with soap and water:

  • after using the toilet, changing a nappy or handling a potty
  • after sneezing, coughing or blowing your nose
  • after contact with blood or body fluid
  • before and after handling raw food like meat and vegetables
  • before and after eating or handling food
  • before and after treating a cut or wound

Use hand rub when entering and leaving the ward. Dispensers of hand rub are at all ward entrances and bedsides. This can be used even on sensitive skin and is very effective in killing germs.


Infectious conditions

We work hard to prevent the spread of infectious conditions. This includes infections that can develop in hospitals, and common conditions like flu and norovirus.

A healthcare associated infection is an infection that you develop when in hospital.

These illnesses are caused by bacteria, such as:

  • MRSA (methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus)
  • c.difficile (clostridium difficile)

We have one of the lowest rates for healthcare associated infections of any central London hospital. This is relative to our size and the complex cases we deal with.

We've done this through:

  • a high profile hand hygiene campaign
  • a strict dress code for clinical staff
  • mandatory staff training sessions about infection control and prevention
  • carrying out weekly patient safety walkabouts
  • rapid response cleaning and maintenance teams to deal with hazards and spills

Flu vaccination is available every year on the NHS. This is to help protect adults and children at risk of flu and its complications.

If you are or have been unwell with flu-like symptoms in the last 7 days, avoid coming to the hospital except in an emergency.

Our staff are helping to get the message across about the importance of having your flu jab by making sure they get theirs too. Doing so helps to protect you, our patients, colleagues and loved ones from the impact of flu.

Symptoms

If you have had a fever or any 2 of the following symptoms in the past 7 days, please do not visit our hospitals or community sites:

  • fever (38 degrees centigrade)
  • shortness of breath or cough
  • headache
  • runny nose
  • sore throat
  • tiredness
  • aching limbs
  • lack of appetite
  • vomiting and diarrhoea
  • stomach cramps.

If you have a routine appointment

Please rescheduled your appointment if you have a fever or any 2 of the other flu symptoms listed.

If you are due to be admitted to hospital

Please call the number in your admission letter or the ward where you are being admitted and explain your symptoms.

Visiting friends and relatives

Please don't visit relatives and friends who are inpatients on our wards if you have any flu-like symptoms.

Emergency department (A&E)

Only attend our emergency department (A&E) if absolutely necessary.

If you have been suffering from a medical problem for more than 48 hours you should first try calling your GP surgery or NHS 111 on 111 for advice.

For more information about flu, please visit the NHS website.

Information on how to keep healthy during the winter is available on the NHS website.

Highly contagious, norovirus is a common cause of outbreaks of diarrhoea and vomiting. 

It affects people of all ages and can be transmitted through:

  • water
  • food
  • air
  • person-to-person contact

It is sometimes called 'winter vomiting disease'. This is because people usually get it during the winter months. However, it can occur at any time of the year.

Call NHS 111 or go to the NHS website for information on the symptoms and prevention of norovirus.


People at risk of infection

If you're ill, injured or have a wound or tube placed in your body, you're more at risk of developing an infection.

Infections can increase the time it takes you to recover and lead to a longer stay in hospital or worse.

Not all infections can be avoided. You may:

  • already have an infection when you come into hospital
  • be having surgery or treatment that increases the risk of infection
  • have a low immune system (the body's defence system), making you more vulnerable to infections

If you have a wound after surgery, please make sure you read our information about surgical wounds and preventing infection.

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