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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 every one of us can play a part in infection prevention and control.

Ann started by informing us about the winter pressures faced by the Trust and the 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 out- breaks. This service is supplied to 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 reducing infections. For example there has been not been a hospital acquired case of MRSA (Multi 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. Examples were washing fruit and vegetables before eating them, not having ice in drinks if bottled water was not used to make the ice and using bottled water for teeth cleaning. Again washing our hands before eating and preparing food and after using the bathroom was reinforced. 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.

It is important that travel vaccinations are up to date when travelling abroad. Please check the website https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/travel-vaccinations/ for advice on the vaccines needed for the country you are travelling to.

Ann’s final message to the audience was to wash hands frequently 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 hand washing techniques the end of the session.

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


Bertie Swan
Public Governor


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