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Community infection control resources needed

Speaking to the Medical Independent (MI), Prof Martin Cormican said that some Community Healthcare Organisations (CHOs) have very little access to IPC professionals “and in some cases they don’t really have access to IPC professionals at all, other than the little bit of support we can give them from the national team”.

Prof Cormican advised that each CHO should have a multidisciplinary team of IPC healthcare professionals.

“What we are proposing is that each CHO needs to have its own capacity and if we could get that accepted, that would be a huge transformation and very necessary, both in terms of dealing with the problem but also in the context of [the fact] that HIQA are going to issue, most likely this year, standards for infection prevention and control in the community.”

He would envisage a two-to-five-year programme of building “really substantial IPC and antimicrobial stewardship capacity…that is really critical if we are going to improve standards”.

Asked about funding, Prof Cormican said there “will be a process of working through how it is going to be implemented or how it will be funded”.

IPC nurse Ms Mary McKenna, a member of Prof Cormican’s national HSE HCAI/AMR Implementation Team, has been working with CHOs to develop hand hygiene training.

Prof Cormican said this process is working well and over 200 hand hygiene trainers in the community have been trained to date.

Meanwhile, Prof Cormican confirmed that the capacity of the HSE HCAI/AMR Implementation Team is increasing, with a programme manager to take up post shortly and interviews set to be held for a chief antimicrobial pharmacist. This team is a key part of the response to the rise of carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CPE), which is the subject of a public health emergency since October.

“We have started the process of recruiting an IPC nurse at a very senior level,” said Prof Cormican, “and we are working on recruiting another consultant which we have approval for.” He added: “We have been supported in developing the team by the Department of Health,” which was “important to acknowledge”.

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