Question thomas Health

National/international hand hygiene policy

Why do you need a hand hygiene policy in a trust and how can a national/international hand hygiene policy affect it?

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Answer Expert #3230

It is vital to have a hand hygiene policy in a trust because, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) (2009), the hands are the main route of germ transmission during healthcare. Therefore, hand hygiene is the most important measure that can be taken to avoid the transmission of harmful germs, ultimately to prevent healthcare-acquired infections (HCAs), also known as healthcare-associated or nosocomial infections. In other words, a hand hygiene policy in a trust is indispensable because it serves as the primary preventive strategy in combating the problem of HCAs. It is estimated that 300,000 patients a year in England acquire this type of infection as a result of their care within the NHS (National Health Service) (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence 2014), so it is imperative to have a clear and well-observed hand hygiene policy in a trust to significantly reduce this number, if not completely eradicate it.

From a professional point of view, healthcare professionals like nurses and doctors are duty-bound to ensure the health and safety of their patients. For instance, the regulatory body called the Nursing and Midwifery Council (2015) declares under its Code that nurses and midwives must not only be aware of but also reduce, as far as possible, any potential for harm associated with their practice. The threat of HCAs is a real health threat that is associated with everyday nursing and midwifery practice, and so like other healthcare professionals, they should be vigilant in protecting their patients and colleagues from this type of infection. One simple but effective way by which nurses, midwives and healthcare professionals can do this is to have a hand hygiene policy within their trust.


National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (2015). Infection prevention and control. [online]. Available at: [Accessed: 5 September 2016].

Nursing and Midwifery Council (2015). The code: Professional standards of practice and behaviour for nurses and midwives. London: NMC.

World Health Organization (2009). Why, how & when? [online]. Available at: [Accessed: 5 September 2016].