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News / June 1, 2009

New infection control standards issued

by Guy Hiscott

The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) has published new standards to combat the spread of healthcare associated infections.

Speaking at the launch of the National Standards for the Prevention and Control of Healthcare Associated Infections, Jon Billings, director of healthcare quality and safety with the Health Information and Quality Authority, said: ‘The ongoing reduction in healthcare associated infections is one of the most important challenges facing health and social care services, not just in Ireland but globally.

‘A major cultural shift by all healthcare staff is required to help reduce the rates of these infections. The majority of the Standards are straightforward to implement, with the appropriate culture, changes in behaviour, effective planning, management and leadership.’

The 12 Standards cover issues such as governance and management, hand hygiene, medical device related infections, antibiotic resistance, staffing; the physical environment and disease control. They are designed to promote an environment that maximises patient safety, quality and accountability in health and social care services.

‘Importantly, they drive a culture of responsibility and accountability among all staff involved in the management and delivery of health and social care services – all of whom must play their part in preventing and controlling these infections. The public and users of our services also have a significant role to play, through taking an active role in ensuring that they maintain personal diligence in hand hygiene and in challenging the implementation of these Standards from people providing care,’ Jon Billings said.

The Standards will apply to all health and social care services in Ireland, including dental and GP surgeries, hospitals, community care services and primary care services, and are applicable across all sectors – public, voluntary and independent.

However, it is recognised that the issues for independent practitioners, such as dentists, not working as part of a large service or organisation are different. Therefore, the Authority will issue further guidance on the application of these National Standards in relation to these areas in due course.

For further details and to download copies of the HIQA documents, visit