Initiative to stop spread of superbugs in hospitals
Belfast health chiefs to ask visitors to follow the 'four simple rules'
Health chiefs battling the spread of potentially deadly superbugs have launched a new plan of action for hospital visitors to follow.
The Belfast Health and Social Care Trust is appealing to the public for help in containing the spread of bugs such as MRSA and Clostridium Difficile.
Dr Tony Stevens, the Trust's medical director, said hospital visitors would be asked to follow "four simple rules".
"Public support is a vital part of the battle against infection in hospitals," he said.
"We have drawn up a four point plan which we are asking visitors and anyone else entering hospitals in the Belfast area to follow," he added.
"We are confident that if everyone coming into a Belfast hospital follows these simple guidelines then, together with the measures our doctors, nurses and other hospital staff are taking, we can further improve the control of infection."
The Trust is asking that everyone entering a hospital:
€ Clean their hands before and after visiting a hospital ward
€ Not to visit if they feel unwell, have a cold, diarrhoea or vomiting
€ Not to bring perishable foods in to hospitals
€ Stick to the visiting times and the numbers of visitors allowed at one time.
The 'Help Keep Infection Under Control' campaign was launched yesterday at the Belfast City Hospital.
The trust hopes co-operation from the public will work alongside staff efforts to reduce infection and a number of new infection control measures.
These include a new visiting policy which restricts visitors to two per patient at any one time, regular enforcement of staff guidelines on hand washing and hygiene, a review of policies on the prescribing of antibiotics and new cleaning policies and procedures.
The Belfast Trust said its new drive against infection includes the erection of a number of large exterior display boards urging people visiting hospitals to 'Help keep infection under control' by cleaning their hands before entering hospital wards.
Posters and leaflets reinforcing the four main messages will also be available in all Belfast hospitals from this week.
Superbugs have been high in public concern in recent months after a C.Difficile outbreak in the Northern Trust area.
Overall, hospital-acquired infections have contributed to the deaths of 459 people in Northern Ireland in the last six years, according to the statistics from the General Registrar Office.
Last year, it attributed to the deaths of 77 people across Ulster - with 30 during the final three months of the year.