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Delivering under pressure

The Association of Healthcare Cleaning Professionals (ahcp) held its 2016 Professional Development Forum at Chesford Grange in Warwickshire last week (June 8 - 10). The Forum featured an interactive programme with a mixture of top-level speakers and workshop-style breakout sessions designed to stimulate thought around the role of the cleaning professional, the challenges currently faced and the technology available within a modern health service. These sessions required delegates to focus on three areas for debate: Infection prevention and control from the Commissioning perspective, PLACE and the ahcp's new training logbook.

The Forum host was Dr David Bull, a medical doctor-cum-TV presenter who describes himself as being passionate about empowering people to make better health choices and who has instigated many healthcare campaigns, including one for improved standards of cleanliness in hospitals. "Unless everyone works together you actually don't get anything done. As a doctor I can prescribe antibiotics, but if I’m doing that in an environment that isn’t clean, that isn’t sterile, and the patients gets a Hospital Acquired Infection, that is no good for anyone."

There was a strong focus on infection prevention and control throughout the programme and the need for housekeeping staff to work as part of a team with clinical and nursing staff to ensure the healthcare premises run as efficiently and professionally as possible. A further interactive session compared and contrasted the 'pros and cons' of deep cleaning methods: steam, HPV, chlorine, UV and microfibre. Delegates had to choose the method they considered to be the best after the 'pros' had been presented. Interestingly, the subsequent explanation of the 'cons' of each method failed to persuade anyone to change their mind.

Forum presentations included:

* Professor Stephen Dunne, CEO of West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, on how his Trust does deliver under pressure, with clinical services including cancer, stroke, trauma and orthopaedic rated amongst the best in the country; an A&E department that is delivering on the four-hour target in spite of the old building from which it functions; and a zero tolerance approach to Healthcare Acquired Infections.  A hospital is about more than just the bricks and mortar, says Dr Dunne, it is about the people and being positive really can make a difference.

* Liz Jones, Head of Patient Environment at the Department of Health on the Lord Carter Review and Cleaning Efficiency, who demonstrated how drilling down into the data revealed a more complex picture than simply the requirement to cut costs to achieve the median spend benchmark. The quality of the data is not good enough, says Jones, but she also emphasised the importance of looking at cost and quality together.  It is no good cutting costs if that means the standard of cleaning reverts to where it was around the turn of the 21st Century.

* Rachel Thaxter, Lead Nurse, Infection Prevention and Control for Cambridge University Hospital Trust on the impact of old and new infections on cleaning schedules. It was a sobering presentation that named Multi-Resistant Organisms (MROs) as the biggest challenges of the future. Be ready to deal with CPE/CRE (Carbapanem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae and Carbapenemasse Producing Enterobacteriaceae) she says, if it arrives, because if it gets out into the healthcare community we will lose Carbapanems, known as the antibiotics of 'last resort', relied on by doctors to treat difficult infections when other antibiotics have failed and we can't afford to let that happen.

* Derek Butler, Chair of MRSA Action UK on MRSA and the importance of prevention as the most effective resistance to bacteria. He called for 'rapid-testing' to establish quickly whether a patient has a virus or a bacterial infection and therefore to enable doctors to prescribe the most effective treatment without delay and avoid prescribing an antibiotic that will not be effective.

* Sinead Collins from the NHS Greater East Midlands Commissioning Support Unit on surviving CQC. She recommends complete honesty and emphasised the need to maintain written records of everything.

* Kelly Louise Smith, ahcp Training Lead on the activities of the Education, Training and Development team, including the waste qualification, the University of Northampton scholarship and the President’s bursary. She presented an award recognising outstanding commitment to training and development to ahcp Director, Lesley Davis, whose motto is 'why ask one question when 10 will get you more detail.'   

* Nadra Ahmed OBE, Chairman of the National Care Association (NCA) on how care homes are delivering under pressure and how social care needs to grow to meet our needs now and in the future - in particular, becoming more clinical.

A final joint presentation from Anna Hallas, National Domestic Manager and Infection Control Lead, Compass Group; Margaret Graham, Support Services Manager, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Karen Older, Support Services Manager, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, explained the practical approach they have taken to discharge and deep cleaning. 

Dr David Bull summed up the Forum and Simon Sharpe, National Chairman, closed the event after handing the 'baton' to the Northern Branch who will organise the 2017 Forum.