Infection prevention and control

We are committed to protecting patients, staff and visitors against the risk of acquiring an infection during their treatment/admission. We do this by screening, monitoring of the appropriate use of antibiotics, following national guidance, audit, promoting hand hygiene and providing patient and staff education.

You may be asked to undertake screening or additional precautions prior to your admission/surgery. This is dependent on the type of surgery you are due to have and your history. We will inform you of these if required. They may include swabs for MRSA, Covid Lateral Flow testing or skin body washes.

Information is available around the trust for the public in the form of leaflets and posters, but if you have any concerns please contact the infection prevention and control team on 01342 414341.

The single most important factor in reducing hospital acquired infections is good hand hygiene. Our staff MUST wash their hands immediately before and after every episode of direct patient contact/care and after any activity or contact that could potentially result in their hands becoming contaminated. They MUST also be bare below the elbows.

Please feel free to ask any member of staff (including doctors and nurses) if they have cleaned their hands before they examine or treat you. Be assured that this will not affect your care.

How you can help to reduce the spread of infection

Please make sure you clean your own hands with soap and water after using the toilet and before meals. If you cannot leave your bed a nurse will provide you with a packet of hand wipes.


You can read our latest visiting guidance here.

We ask that visitors:

  • Clean their hands either with soap and water or the alcohol gel provided at the ward entrances, before and after visiting you
  • Contact the person in charge before or on arrival to the ward/department if they are unsure if the person they are visiting has an infection
  • Do not to come to the hospital if they have been unwell in the last 48 hours, especially with a cold, diarrhoea or vomiting. They must wait until they have been clear of symptoms for at least 48 hours before visiting
  • Do not sit on the patient’s bed
  • Do not bring babies or young children onto wards because hospitals can be unsafe for them, except in areas where children are patients.

On our burns ward, where patients are especially susceptible to infections, a maximum of two visitors are allowed at the bedside at any one time. Please check with the ward regarding current visiting guidance.


It is lovely to receive flowers when in hospital. To help us reduce the risk of infection and keep bedside areas safe and tidy, we ask that floral bouquets are provided in oasis or in pots. The number of flowers by the bedside may be limited due to space.

Some bugs and germs that are often found in flowers and their water can be an infection risk to patients with significantly weakened immune systems. For this reason we do not allow flowers in the intensive care unit (ICU), the burns unit or in certain areas of Ross Tilley ward. Your friends and relatives could consider other gifts such as fruit or magazines.


We take the level of cleanliness in the hospital very seriously. Our staff are committed to maintaining a high standard of cleanliness in line with the National Standards of Cleanliness (National Patient Safety Agency 2007). To monitor standards the domestic supervisor undertakes 12-15 cleanliness audits weekly. If areas are not to a satisfactory standard immediate action is taken.

To ensure patients are cared for in a clean and safe environment we must conduct Patient-Led Assessments of the Care Environment (PLACE). There is an annual mandatory inspection and additional mini-inspections take place every two weeks.

Infection rates

We report episodes of MRSA bacteraemia, Meticillin sensitive Staphylococcus aureus (MSSA) bacteraemia, Clostridium difficile toxin associated diarrhoea cases, and Escherichia Coli bacteraemia as required by the Department of Health and Public Health England (PHE). Bacteraemia means the organism is detected in your blood.

Our target for MRSA bacteraemia and Clostridium difficile is zero. No target has been set for MSSA bacteraemia and E.Coli bacteraemia. However we promote a zero tolerance approach to avoidable infections.


It is normal for healthy people to have bacteria (germs) on their skin. One of the most common types of bacteria is Staphylococcus aureus. One in three people have this bacterium in their noses or skin, and most carry it without any harm to themselves or their family. However, it sometimes causes infections, especially if it gets into a wound. This is why we try to stop MRSA spreading around the hospital.

As part of a national MRSA screening programme, swabs will be taken either at your pre assessment appointment or on the day of admission, from different sites on your body to test if you are carrying MRSA. By finding out which patients are MRSA carriers before they come into hospital, we can take additional precautions to reduce the risk of infection for them and other patients. Patients admitted due to a trauma will be screened on admission.

Download our MRSA leaflet for more information.

Clostridium difficile

Clostridium difficile, also known as “C.difficile” and “C.diff”, is a type of bacterium that causes diarrhoea. Other symptoms may include fever, loss of appetite, nausea or abdominal pains.

Download our Clostridium difficile leaflet for more information.

The C.difficile target for QVH was set locally with the Clinical Commissioning Groups. We had one case against a limit of zero. There has been no spread of infection from one patient to another.

An antibiotic is a medicine that either kills bacteria or stops them from increasing in number. They are only effective against bacteria and are unable to kill viruses. Bacteria change rapidly and as a result, some bacteria become resistant to antibiotics. To prevent this from happening, it is important to use antibiotics responsibly, including completing prescribed courses and taking them correctly. Your doctor will only prescribe antibiotics when he/she feels that they are absolutely necessary.

Antibiotic prescribing

Download our antibiotics leaflet for more information.

Our infection prevention and control team

Our team is made up of:

  • Two qualified infection control nurses: Sarah Prevett, Infection Control Lead Nurse, and Nikki Cross, Infection Control Nurse.
  • Three consultant microbiologists from Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals who provide the trust with expert advice
  • Nicky Reeves, Director of Infection Prevention and Control (DIPC)

The team reports to the DIPC who has a responsibility to ensure the board of directors is kept up to date with a variety of information such as incidents, audits and infection rates. These reports can be found in the public board of directors meeting papers.

The Chief Executive and Chief Nurse carry out regular walkabouts to clinical and non-clinical areas to confirm that standards of care and cleanliness remain high.

Effective infection prevention and control is EVERYONE’S responsibility and is included in all staff job descriptions.

Patient information leaflets