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New national clinical guideline for infection prevention and control published

By Reporter - 11th May 2023

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Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has today published a new national clinical effectiveness guideline (NCEG) to provide clinical staff with evidence-based actions to guide practices for infection prevention and control (IPC). 

The development of this guideline was led by the infection prevention and control guideline development group, chaired by Prof Martin Cormican, Consultant Microbiologist, Galway University Hospital and Professor of Bacteriology, School of Medicine, University of Galway. Prof Cormican was formally National Clinical Lead for Antimicrobial Resistance and Infection Control. This guideline is supported by the Health Service Executive (HSE); in particular, the HSE National Programme for Antimicrobial Resistance and Infection Control (AMRIC).

Infection prevention and control is a key enabler of delivering safe health and social care for patients, their families, and staff.

Supporting the publication today, Minister Donnelly, said: “I am pleased to announce this new national clinical guideline in relation to infection prevention and control. I am pleased that work is already underway on its implementation across the health service to help support safe, high-quality care for patients.

“This guideline will help healthcare workers provide care, based on the best available evidence. It has been informed by a full public consultation and reviewed by international experts and I acknowledge the work of all involved to make these guidelines available for patient care. The guideline builds on our experiences of delivering care over the last three years, during which the health system has seen much reform and challenge.”

Ms Rachel Kenna, Chief Nursing Officer, said: “Promoting good hand hygiene and practicing evidence-based IPC is something all healthcare staff can do to improve patient care and outcomes. The development of this guideline provides a strong evidence base to reduce variation and promote best practice across Ireland for this important patient care issue. Practising IPC in line with these recommendations will lead to improved care, standardised practice and better outcomes for patients and their families and staff.

“I would like to thank and acknowledge the work of all involved in the development of this guideline. Last Friday was International Day of the Midwife and tomorrow (12 May 2023) is International Day of the Nurse.  The guideline supports nurses and midwives in caring for their patients and particularly relevant to nursing and midwifery given their role in the direct provision of care and their long, established history in promoting best practice in IPC.”

Prof Cormican, Chair of the guideline development group and Consultant Microbiologist, said: “I hope this guideline will support infection prevention and control practitioners to understand and apply the principles of IPC. I hope it supports us all to rise to the challenge of focusing on what the patient needs and wants and how close can we get to making that happen for them with the lowest practical risk of infection to them and to others. This guideline is not a rule book, it is support for people in providing care that is as clean, safe and above all, kind.”

Professor of Clinical Microbiology at RCSI, Prof Hilary Humphreys, said: “This is a very significant milestone in safeguarding patient safety as the guideline is so comprehensive in its coverage of infection prevention and control issues. It builds upon the many other guidelines produced in recent years using a multi-disciplinary and multi-agency approach. It will be of great use to all and its implementation can significantly reduce preventable infection. I would like to congratulate all involved for their huge commitment, diligence and effort, very ably led by Prof Martin Cormican.”

The guideline has been quality assured by the national clinical effectiveness committee in line with international best practice. Guideline implementation is already underway and the experience of using guidelines in the pandemic has supported the final guideline. It has also been peer-reviewed by international experts and was subject to a public consultation.

The development and quality assurance of the new NCEC national clinical guideline is an action under Strategic Objective 5 in Ireland’s second One Health National Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance 2021-2025 (iNAP2). This plan was published jointly by the Department of Health and the Department of Agriculture, Food, and the Marine in November 2021 and includes 90 human health actions across the World Health Organisation (WHO) 5 Strategic Objectives. As the human health actions were developed during a time of change and challenge in the health system, provision for a mid-term review of these was included in the original plan. This mid-term review is now complete and is also being published today.

Further information about the NCEC national clinical guidelines is available at: http://www.gov.ie/clinicalguidelines

Further information about iNAP2 and the human health mid-term review is available at: www.gov.ie/amr

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