The Infection Prevention and Control team at Maidstone & Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust is led by Dr Sara Mumford, our Director of Infection Prevention and Control (DIPC).
The COVID-19 pandemic put unprecedented demand on the IPC team and emphasised the importance of having a robust IPC service. In response to this, the IPC service expanded in 2021/22 to include the Fit testing and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) team, additional IPC specialist nurses and surgical site surveillance nurses, a data analysist and administrators. The team work hard to educate and support all staff, including porters, nurses, allied health professionals, pharmacists and doctors, as well as patients and the public to play an important role in keeping our patients safe whilst they are in hospital.
During the pandemic we have responded to national guidance which saw different ways of working including physical distancing, increased screening for COVID-19, restricted visiting and mask wearing. With most restrictions now being relaxed we continue to promote the core, evidence-based principles of infection prevention and control including, good hand hygiene, correct use of PPE and the safe, appropriate use of antibiotics. Although mask wearing is no longer required in hospital or the community, to help keep our staff and patients safe we continue to offer the option to visitors, patients and staff to wear masks in our hospitals.
Our staff should be making cleanliness and hygiene their top priority at all times so please do ask them if they washed their hands before attending to you. If you have any questions about hygiene issues during your stay in hospital, please contact the nurse in charge of the ward, or contact the infection control team directly.
Healthcare practitioners have a duty to review antibiotics given to patients in hospital on a daily basis and stop them as soon as it is safe to do so. Effective antimicrobial stewardship helps to prevent the emergence of resistant bacteria and audits are undertaken to monitor compliance with our antimicrobial policies. The Infection Prevention and Control and Pharmacy teams alongside the Consultant Microbiologists are available to provide support to clinicians to ensure that antibiotics are prescribed and reviewed appropriately.
We ask all visitors to please stay away from our hospitals if you have been unwell in the previous 48 hours, particularly if you have had diarrhoea, vomiting or respiratory symptoms. This is to avoid spreading germs to others. While we understand that visitors want to be close to their family or friend who is unwell, we are sure that you wouldn’t want to put them at risk of infection, so we ask all visitors to sit on the chairs in the wards, rather than on the beds.
We ask all patients and visitors to wash or gel their hands before eating meals and to wash hands after using the commode or toilet facilities.
Infection control is everyone’s business. Keeping hands clean at all times while visiting, staying at or working in hospital is the simplest way to help keep everyone safe.
If you have any questions about infection prevention, please ask a member of staff in our hospitals or contact our infection prevention team on 01622 227210.
Norovirus is a frequent cause of diarrhoea and vomiting in the community and is most common during the winter, but can occur at any time of the year.
This virus lasts 2-3 days and the person will have diarrhoea and/or vomiting. Some people may have a raised temperature, headaches and aching limbs. The illness is usually mild in nature and gets better without any medication.
However, the virus can spread very easily in the hospital due to close contact between patients and staff. Large numbers of patients and staff can be involved and it is important to stop the illness spreading around the hospital and to relatives and friends. In the hospital we use standard infection prevention precautions, including wearing gloves and aprons, to do this. Sometimes we have to close a ward to new admissions in order to prevent spread to other patients.
When norovirus is seen on a ward, visitors are restricted in order to reduce or prevent further spread of the infection.
In general, all visitors should wash their hands thoroughly both before and after visiting, and those who are unwell or suffering from diarrhoea and vomiting themselves should not visit until they have been symptom free for 48 hours.