The NHS's national hand hygiene campaign did help to cut hospital infection rates, latest research has suggested.
The National Patient Safety Agency's Cleanyourhands campaign played an important role in reducing rates of some healthcare-associated infections in hospitals across England and Wales, according to the study published on the BMJ website.
The campaign was rolled out from January 2005 to all acute NHS trusts in England and Wales, following concerns over high levels of infections and low levels of hand hygiene. It was the first campaign of its kind to be rolled out nationwide.
Its aim was to reduce high levels of Staphylococcus aureus infection - meticillin resistant (MRSA) and meticillin sensitive (MSSA) - and Clostridium difficile infection that are spread through contamination of healthcare workers' hands.
The campaign involved having alcohol hand rub at each hospital bedside, distribution of posters, regular audits and feedback, and provision of materials empowering patients to remind healthcare workers to clean their hands.
The study aimed to evaluate the impact of the campaign by investigating rates of hospital procurement of alcohol hand rub and soap and its association with infection rates, even though the research conceded that this was not the sole driver of reductions.
Nevertheless, it concluded that the campaign was associated with higher procurement of soap and alcohol hand rub, which in turn had helped to reduce rates of some healthcare-associated infections.