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This was an excellent and very informative presentation by Ann Birler, Nurse Consultant / Deputy Director of Infection Prevention and Control.

Ann covered issues in both hospital and home environments; and looked at ways in which each and everyone of us can play a part in infection prevention and control.

She began by informing us about the winter pressures faced by the Trust and the infection control measures in place; as well as both the personal health implications to patients/staff and visitors along with the huge financial implications.

The three main infection control activities carried out by Ann and her team are: Education, Audit and Surveillance. This includes giving advice on all aspects of infection prevention and control, providing policies, protocols and guidelines as well as managing infection outbreaks. This service is supplied not only to Ashford and St Peter’s, but Woking Community Hospital and Sam Beare Hospice as well.

The team is also required to meet targets set by the Government and work to reduce infections. For example there has not been a hospital acquired case of MRSA (meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) in the Trust since February 2015.

We can use the measures we have learnt in the hospital environment and transfer them into our own homes. Hand washing is paramount in infection control and prevention, supported by hand sanitisers when hand washing facilities are not available. It was advised to never share personal items such as toothbrushes, handkerchiefs or razors.

Ann gave us some safe cooking tips to follow in our home and advice on being a “smart traveller” abroad, such as not having ice in drinks if bottled water was not used to make it. Also, it is important that travel vaccinations are up to date when travelling abroad and information is available on the NHS Choices website.

When dealing with influenza one should use the “catch it, bin it” advice when using a tissue and then continue by washing hands. Of course, ensuring you have the flu vaccine is especially important when you have certain health conditions. Your GP can advise further.

Ann’s final message to the audience was to wash handsfrequently with soap and warm water for at least twenty seconds and to use a paper towel or clean towel to dry hands thoroughly.

Members were then invited to check their own hand washing technique at the end of the session.

All in all an excellent eye opener on infection control both in the hospital and at home.


Written by Bertie Swan, Public Governor for Elmbridge