Commencing April 2022, all healthcare environments in the United Kingdom, including acute hospitals, mental health, primary care, dental care, ambulance trusts, GP surgeries, clinics and care homes, have to comply with The National Standards of Healthcare Cleanliness 2021. This represents a set of mandatory compliance cleaning standards set out by the NHS, which additionally also extend to other communal spaces where first line treatment is administered such as pharmacies, prisons, and police stations.
The standards, which were initially published in May 2021, replace the existing National Specifications for Cleanliness in the NHS 2007 and its amendments to reflect current cleaning procedures and other developments that have occurred since 2007. They have been created to add more flexibility, transparency of results and quality guarantee through a three-stage audit procedure, in addition to enhancing cooperation amongst members of staff.
Reflecting modern cleaning requirements and methods
For the first time, the new standards expressively mandate a coordinated approach across all relevant departments – from a ward cleaner to nurses and senior doctors. Cleaning frequency, monitoring, and auditing must all be adjusted in proportion to the amount of functional risk associated with each area, according to the guidelines. The rules specify that, for example, a records storeroom will not require as regular cleaning as an intensive care unit.
In the United Kingdom, there is no national standard of cleanliness outside of the NHS. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that many organisations, including non-healthcare settings, have chosen to adhere to the new National Standards. There is an understanding that these are now ‘the gold standards’ in terms of cleanliness.
Confusion surrounding the new set of standards
However, not all healthcare professionals have a unified opinion on the newly rolled out standards, causing confusion amongst, for example, dentists. At dental surgeries, there is at least one treatment room, which unlike many other primary care locations, may entail invasive procedures, such as the use of aerosol. According to the standards, this would fall under FR2 area in the one to six scale for functional risk.
Dentists, like many others in primary care, have the problem of balancing the demands of such a key treatment area with those of lower-risk locations like waiting rooms and storerooms. The close location of the rooms together with their frequent use provide distinct challenges.
The aim of the new standards certainly is not to confuse practitioners about their own cleaning practices nor to question their compliance. On the other hand, by implementing a mandatory framework on a national level, NHS England and Improvement have set a bar for achieving measurable outcomes regarding cleanliness that practitioners can be proud to celebrate.
BioCote® as an advocate for the ultimate hygiene solution
The subject of what role antimicrobial additives can play in healthcare environments has recently been thrust into the spotlight on a worldwide scale. The world has never been more focused on hygiene standards, which for many has emphasised the need for better and stronger hygiene routines in reducing cross-contamination.
For over 25 years, BioCote® has been pioneering the use of antimicrobial additives to support hygiene levels in all environments, including healthcare. To provide the ultimate hygiene solution, our additives operate in conjunction with frequent and rigorous cleaning regimes as well as strong hand hygiene.
Our technology, built into key surfaces via our customers’ products, actively reduces the number of microbes on a protected surface. It works in between cleans to control the levels of microbes on those surfaces, working constantly and lasting for the expected lifetime of that product. Less microbes on the surface mean less odours, less staining and reduced material degradation. For some products, this will mean extending their usable lifetime past that of unprotected ones, creating additional sustainability within those product ranges.