Infection prevention and control professionals repeatedly apply their expertise to deal with change and crisis in an effort to solve immediate and often urgent problems instantly, as this is the nature of the work they do in keeping patients safe from healthcare associated infection.
However organisational and political change is a much more lengthy process and means coping with the challenges and uncertainty that they bring in the way they affect much of the policy used to guide practice, which in turn creates different demands on the workforce and the skills required to undertake this new practice and achieve new targets. It also often changes the way the public, patients and staff view the new systems in place.
The headlines in May 2010 following the change of government said it all NHS to undergo radical overhaul. This announcement by the government was followed by a number of publications which included the values and the principle that the Department of Health will hold itself to, to ensure that the transition is managed fairly and transparently in a way that respects staff and the contribution they make. We are now beginning to see what a new coalition government means for healthcare in general and for those of us in the speciality of infection prevention and control. New challenges have been set for the NHS and the changes set out reinforce recently announced plans to publish more transparent hospital infection data and plans to withhold payment from hospitals where patients are readmitted within 30 days of discharge. Initial signs are that support will be there for a service with a zero-tolerance approach to healthcare associated infections which has always been the goal for infection prevention and control professionals. Highlighting and adding to the evidence base to infection prevention and control will help drive already innovative practice being undertaken and the NRIC team will continue to draw your attention to new evidence based guidelines and policy in a timely manner in an effort to assist you.