Ways to Prevent Infection During Chemotherapy Treatments

Chemotherapy can lower a patient’s white blood cell count. Cancers can also make existing white blood cells less effective at fighting bacteria and viruses.

This means that, for chemotherapy patients, even common infections can be much harder to treat, and a lot more dangerous – or even fatal.

In this post we’ll discuss some ways to prevent infection during chemotherapy treatments. To begin with, we’ll explore some of the precautions patients can take to prevent infection during their chemotherapy. We’ll then look at the measures hospitals and healthcare settings can take to prevent and control infection among their most vulnerable patients.

Ways to Prevent Infection During Chemotherapy – For Patients

First, let’s take a look at some of the precautions chemotherapy patients could take to reduce their infection risk.

These are all general ideas for how you can lower your risk of infection. Consult your oncologist for expert advice that’s tailored to you and your needs.

Avoid Crowds or Certain Locations

While undergoing chemotherapy, your oncologist may advise you to avoid crowds, particularly during peak flu seasons. Infections spread more easily in crowded enclosed spaces than they do in outdoor spaces.

Depending on your white blood cell count, your oncologist might advise you to avoid specific locations and situations, such as public transport, supermarkets, cinemas, and so on. They may also advise you on precautions you can take if you do need to go to a crowded place, such as wearing PPE.

Also, for the duration of your chemotherapy, you should avoid spending time with anyone who might carry an infection risk – even if they’re your closest relatives. Sick people could pass on an infection to you. But there’s also the risk that you’ll pass on an infection to them.

Dietary Risks

Food can be a major source of infection. Throughout your chemotherapy, you should take extra precautions around the food you eat:

  • Don’t share plates or cutlery with others.
  • Inspect all fruit and vegetables for signs of spoiling, and thoroughly wash all produce before you eat it.
  • Make sure that any meat, seafood, and eggs you eat are fully cooked.
  • Avoid eating out, especially at buffets where food is left out for hours.
  • Avoid eating some foods entirely, including honey, sushi, blue cheese, and brie.

Pets and Animals

Some infections can be transmitted from animals to people.

Toxoplasmosis is the major risk you’ll face during your chemotherapy.

If you have a cat, you should avoid changing their litter for the duration of your treatment. If you have to change their litter, wear gloves while you do so, and wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.

And speaking of cats, it’s a good idea to keep them indoors during your treatment. They could pick up all sorts of pathogens while they’re out, particularly if they catch any birds or mice.

If you have a dog, ask someone else to walk them. Or at the very least, wear gloves when picking up their droppings, and use hand sanitiser immediately afterwards.

Finally, don’t get any new animals during your treatment, especially not young animals. Not only are they more likely to carry infections, they’re also a lot of work. And during your chemotherapy, you’ll want to take things as easy as possible.

Ways to Prevent Infection During Chemotherapy Treatment – For Hospitals

Chemotherapy patients can take precautions to lower their risk of infection during chemotherapy. But hospitals also have a responsibility to prevent and control infection among all of their patients, particularly the most vulnerable ones.

To achieve this, all healthcare staff must follow the 10 standard infection control precautions. These include:

  • Patient placement, and assessing a patient’s infection risk. There’s a reason why chemotherapy treatments take place in a dedicated oncology department. It ensures that chemotherapy patients are kept separate from patients who might carry an infection risk.
  • Hand hygiene – All staff should thoroughly wash their hands at certain key points, including both before and after interacting with a patient and their immediate surroundings. They should also follow a specific hand cleaning technique.
  • PPE – Staff should wear the appropriate PPE for each occasion. They should also follow certain procedures for storing, putting on, taking off, and disposing of PPE.

Other Measures to Prevent Infection During Chemotherapy

Comprehensive cleaning protocols and procedures can play a huge role in preventing and controlling infection in all healthcare settings. The protocols should target the areas where infections are most likely to take hold and thrive. They should also recommend the most effective cleaning products and the correct procedures for using them.

A hospital grade air purifier can help you quickly and thoroughly improve the air quality in your oncology department, which can prevent infection from airborne pathogens.

Our Blueair HealthProtectTM air purifiers are fitted with advanced HEPASilent technology. This is capable of catching 99.97% of particles down to 0.1 microns. This includes the viruses and bacteria which carry the greatest infection risks for chemotherapy patients.

Take a look at our specialist air purification systems for hospitals.

 

Is Pollution Worse in Winter? How to Improve Indoor Air Quality

A recent report found that over 2,000 UK health centres are located in areas with dangerously high levels of air pollution.

Air pollution can have a severe effect on hospital staff and patients. The risks are particularly high for patients from vulnerable groups, such as children and elderly people, and for patients suffering with respiratory and cardiovascular conditions.

But are these risks any higher in the colder months of the year? Is air pollution worse in winter?

Is Pollution Worse in Winter?

Air pollution levels can change on a daily and regional basis based on a number of factors. Temperature can make a difference to air pollution. Hot air rises but cold air sinks, because it’s denser. And because it’s denser, any gases or particles in the air won’t travel very far. So in the winter, any hazardous air pollutants in the atmosphere can get trapped in the slow moving blanket of cold, dry air at ground level.

Because of the effect of low temperatures, even if pollution levels are lower in the winter than they are in the summer, any pollution will stay in the air for much longer. So even if pollution isn’t necessarily worse in winter, the exposure risks can be much greater.

For a brief introduction to the factors that can affect pollution levels, take a look at our guide to the best and worst areas in the UK for air pollution.

Air Pollution Risks for Hospitals

Every winter, health trusts across the UK are pushed to breaking point as seasonal colds, flus, and other viruses make the rounds. At the same time, up to 20,200 respiratory and cardiovascular hospital admissions each year can be linked to air pollution.

So UK hospitals struggle with a huge influx of patients every winter. Any measures that could free up staff and hospital capacity can make a huge difference in ensuring that the most critical patients can get the help they need, when they need it.

And when it comes to air pollution, there are many measures that hospitals and other healthcare settings can adopt that will make a noticeable impact in the short-term, and a significant impact in the long-term.

How to Improve Indoor Air Quality in Hospitals this Winter

Certain policies can help reduce the air pollution levels on a local level, such as smoking bans and strict onsite speed limits and traffic calming measures.

However, if your hospital’s situated near a major road, or near any construction, industrial, manufacturing or agricultural centres, then onsite air pollution will remain a problem.

So you should instead focus on improving the indoor air quality in your healthcare setting:

Our Blueair HealthProtect air purifiers are fitted with advanced HEPASilent technology. They can catch 99.97% of particles down to 0.1 microns, including all hazardous and toxic air pollutants that can cause such a health risk for staff and patients. And crucially for a hospital, they can also capture and kill 99% of viruses and bacteria.

Take a look at our range of specialist air purification systems for hospitals and healthcare settings.

Get Expert Advice

Get in touch with the team at Cairn Technology, who have been developing cutting-edge products and services for hospitals for over 20 years.

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What is PM10 in Air Quality?

Particulate matter (PM) is a class of air pollution covering everything in the atmosphere that isn’t a gas. This includes a huge range of chemical compounds and materials which air quality experts classify in terms of their particle size.

What is PM10?

Particulate matter containing particles with a diameter of 10 micrometres or smaller. Examples include fumes from traffic and industrial processes.

What are the Other Types of Particular Matter?

PM1 – Particulate matter containing particles with a diameter of 1 micrometre or smaller. Examples include smoke, bacteria, and pollen.

PM2.5 – Particulate matter containing particles with a diameter of 2.5 micrometres or smaller. Examples include dust and pet dander.

You can read our full guide to PM2.5 and the risks it brings.

In this post we’ll explore PM10 – its causes, its risks, and how to manage them.

Where Does PM10 Come From?

A major source of PM10 is the incomplete combustion of hydrocarbons, including coal, wood, diesel, and agricultural waste. The majority of atmospheric PM10 in the UK comes from domestic wood burning, road traffic (particularly diesel cars), vehicle tyre wear, and combustion in the manufacturing sector.

If hydrocarbons undergo complete combustion, they create carbon dioxide and water. But if the air supply is poor during the combustion process, it can create more harmful by-products, including carbon monoxide and carbon particles.

Other sources of PM10 include dust from construction sites, industrial and agricultural combustion, and landfills. Natural sources of PM10 include pollen, bacteria fragments, and fumes from wildfires.

You can read a complete summary of the causes and relative concentrations of PM10 in this government report.

What Are The Risks of PM10 Air Pollution?

The risks of exposure to PM10 can be divided into the short-term exposure effects and long-term exposure effects.

Effects of Short-Term Exposure to PM10

Short-term exposure to PM10 air pollution can aggravate existing conditions, including asthma, allergies, and other respiratory conditions. So PM10 air pollution can pose a particular risk to hospitals.

Not only can it have a negative impact on existing staff and patient health, it can also lead to additional hospitalisations. At a time when the NHS is struggling to manage a huge backlog, anything that could potentially add to the backlog must be treated as a significant threat.

Effects of Long-Term Exposure to PM10

Long-term exposure to PM10 air pollution can lead to serious – even terminal – lung diseases, including lung cancer. Also, PM10 air pollution can include bacteria fragments, and even some viruses. So PM10 air pollution can also carry an infection risk.

Managing the Risks of PM10 Air Pollution at Your Hospital

The Air Quality Standards Regulations 2010 require that concentrations of PM10 in the UK must not exceed an annual average of 40µg/m³. The latest government report indicates that PM10 emissions have fallen significantly in the past 30 years.

Nonetheless, any concentrations of PM10 and other forms of air pollution can pose a considerable risk to vulnerable people. So if your hospital’s located near a main road, a construction site, or any commercial, industrial or agricultural processing location, then you should take steps to manage your onsite air pollution levels:

Fast and Effective Air Filtration Solutions for Hospitals

The BlueAir HealthProtect™ air purifiers are fitted with advanced HEPASilent filters. This means they’re capable of catching and destroying 99.97% of particles down to 0.1 microns in size. So they can filter the harmful PM10 particles from the atmosphere, as well as PM2.5 particles, VOCs, dust, mould, and up to 99% of viruses and bacteria.

Browse our complete range of specialist air purifiers for healthcare settings.

Flu Strains in 2022 – How Many and Which Are Most Common?

Global influenza levels have been low since 2020, but the UK government is predicting to see a resurgence in winter 2022 to 2023. Indeed, the UK could be facing its worse flu season in years. Southern hemisphere nations such as Australia have experienced rampant flu seasons, and experts warn the same may be in store for the UK.

In this post we’ll discuss the flu strains that may circulate in the UK in 2022 and explore ways you can help prevent and control infection.

Common Winter 2022 UK Flu Strains

The major flu strain making the rounds this year is H3N2. Other flu strains that may circulate in the UK this year include H1N1, B(Victoria) and B(Yamagata).

H3N2 Flu Strain

This is the same strain that was responsible for the bad 2017-2018 flu season in the UK, when 22,000 excess deaths in England and Wales were linked to the flu.

Fortunately, reports from Australia indicate that the current flu vaccination is a good match for the H3N2 strain. So it’s vital that any individual who is susceptible to serious illness from viruses receives their annual flu jab.

Flu Variants and Vaccines

Each of the four variants falls into the Influenza A and B categories, which are invariably responsible for the annual flu seasons across the world. Each strain brings broadly similar symptoms, including high temperatures, exhaustion, sore throats, headaches, coughs, and sneezes. Where each strain differs is in its severity and transmissibility.

This year’s flu vaccines have been developed to fight these four major strains. However, flu viruses can mutate over the course of the season, so the vaccines may not be wholly effective in reducing the risk of flu illness.

On top of that, in 2022 the UK may have to contend with a “twindemic”. Covid still hasn’t gone away, after all, and some experts are concerned that “vaccine fatigue” may have set in among the most vulnerable groups.

So anyone eligible for a vaccine should get one. Yet health professionals can take additional action to help prevent and control flu infections this year.

How to Help Prevent the Spread of Flu in 2022

If you work in a GP’s office or a similar healthcare setting, you’re likely to encounter many people with flu-like symptoms this year. You’re also likely to spend time among individuals who are especially vulnerable to viruses, including elderly people, children, and those with serious long-term health conditions.

There are a few things you can do to help prevent and control the spread of flu among your co-workers and your most vulnerable patients:

  • Risk Assessment and Patient Placement – You should assess each patient’s infection risk as soon as they arrive. If possible, you should isolate any patients who demonstrate a high risk of cross-infection.
  • Hand Hygiene – You should wash your hands before and after interacting with every patient. This should take you at least 20 seconds, and you should follow the advised procedure to ensure thorough hand hygiene.
  • Respiratory and Cough Etiquette – Encourage all staff to catch their coughs and sneezes in tissues, and to dispose of these tissues immediately afterwards, before washing their hands. To make this easier, provide ample tissues and hand-washing facilities throughout your care setting.
  • Personal Protective Equipment – Staff should wear the adequate PPE depending on the task at hand. Ideally, all PPE should be disposable, and located close to the point of use.

These are all examples of standard infection control precautions (SICPs). Read our full guide to infection prevention and control.

Air Purification for Effective Infection Control

Good air filtration can make a huge difference in preventing and controlling infection in healthcare settings. A recent University of Cambridge study found that an air filtration system in a Covid-19 ward successfully removed almost all traces of the airborne virus.

The BlueAir HealthProtect 7740i Air Purifier can deliver complete filtration every 12.5 minutes in rooms as large as 62m². Its filters can trap up to 99.97% of particles down to 0.1 microns, and up to 99% of viruses and bacteria – including all of the most common flu strains, and Covid.

Learn more about how we can help prevent infections and improve the air quality in your healthcare setting. Get in touch to talk to one of our air purification experts today.

 

Common Infections in Care Homes & Effects on Bed Shortage

Many types of viral and bacterial infection are common in care homes and residential care settings.

3 Factors That Make Infections a Major Concern in Care Homes

In this post we’ll discuss some of the common infections in care homes. We’ll also explore some ways to improve infection prevention and control in care homes and other healthcare settings.

Most Common Infections in Care Homes

One study of infection outbreaks in care homes found that more than 50% of all infection agents came from just four organisms:

  • The influenza virus
  • Norovirus
  • Salmonella
  • Streptococcus Pyogenes

Furthermore, this study found that the respiratory tract was affected in 45% of outbreaks in care homes. Meanwhile, the gastrointestinal tracts was involved in 26% of outbreaks, the skin in 7% and the eyes in 2%.

Other common infections in care homes include Clostridium difficile and Bacillary Dysentery. These are each bacterial infections that can lead to vomiting, fever, and diarrhoea.

This study was conducted in 2012. Since then, of course, the world’s faced numerous outbreaks of Covid-19. Many of these outbreaks hit care homes particularly hard, particularly in the early days of the pandemic.

The latest Omicron variants may not be as deadly as the earlier variants, but they may still pose a risk to certain at-risk groups. Care home managers may have to account for the risks of further Omicron outbreaks for years to come.

How To Prevent and Control Common Infections in Care Homes

The key to infection prevention and control in care settings is to understand how these infections spread. Also, some care home residents may be unable to effectively communicate that they’re feeling bad. So learning the common symptoms of these infections is vital. The earlier you can spot the symptoms, the earlier you can act to protect both staff and patients from further infection.

Here are some general strategies care home managers can adopt to prevent and control infection:

  • Staff Training – Make sure all members of staff understand the common infections they might have to deal with, including the symptoms and how they might spread.
  • Policies and Procedures – You should have specific policies and procedures in place for managing infections, and all members of staff should be able to access these documents at all times.
  • Zoning – If a member of staff catches an infection, they should not come to work. If a resident catches an infection, you should shield them from the rest of the residents for as long as they carry an infection risk. You should also have a policy for informing the resident’s friends and relatives should they catch an infection, as you may have to delay visits for a while.
  • PPE & Hand Hygiene – Staff should wear appropriate personal protection equipment (PPE) when interacting with residents who may have infections. They should also practice good hand hygiene, thoroughly washing their hands both before and after interactions.
  • Cough and Sneeze Etiquette – As many common care home infections are spread via coughs and sneezes, staff should encourage residents to cover their noses and mouths whenever they need to sneeze or cough. They could also provide ample tissues (and instruct residents to “catch it, bin it, kill it”), and adequate hand washing facilities.
  • Cleaning Procedures – Bacteria and viruses can linger on surfaces for hours. It’s likely that most if not all care homes already have stringent cleaning procedures in place. But these procedures should also account for how viruses and bacteria can linger on soft furnishings, including carpets, curtains, and upholstery.

You can read official UK government guidance on infection prevention and control in care homes.

How Air Purification Can Form a Critical Part of Infection Prevention and Control in Care Homes

Though there are many ways for infections to spread in care homes, many of the viruses and bacteria that are responsible for these infections are airborne.

Good air filtration can therefore make a huge difference in preventing and controlling infection in care homes. For example, a recent University of Cambridge study found that an air filtration system in a Covid-19 ward successfully removed almost all traces of the airborne virus.

Our range of HealthProtect air purifiers are specifically designed for hospitals and other healthcare facilities – including care homes and other residential care settings.

The BlueAir HealthProtect 7740i Air Purifier can deliver complete filtration every 12.5 minutes in rooms as large as 62m². Its filters can trap up to 99.97% of particles down to 0.1 microns, and up to 99% of viruses and bacteria – including those responsible for all of the most common outbreaks in care homes.

Want to talk about how we can help prevent infections and improve the air quality in your care home? Get in touch to talk to one of our air purification experts today.

Surgical Smoke Hazards: Causes and Exposure

Surgical smoke has a very unpleasant smell, and it can produce an immediate hazard for surgeons through obstructing their view of the surgical site.

But the major risk associated with such procedures is that both diathermy and surgical smoke emissions can contain numerous toxic gases, particulates, viruses, bacteria and other harmful vapours.

Surgical Smoke Causes

Some surgical procedures involve diathermy – the use of heat from an electric current to either cut tissue or seal bleeding vessels. This process can produce certain emissions that are invisible to the naked eye. But thermally destroying tissues by any means, whether it’s through diathermy, lasers, ultrasound, or even high speed drills, can also produce surgical smoke.

Surgical Smoke Exposure

Among numerous potentially harmful substances, one study found that surgical smoke contains acrylonitrile and hydrogen cyanide. These are volatile, colourless, and toxic chemicals that can be absorbed into the lungs through the skin and via the gastrointestinal tract.

Short Term Effects of Surgical Smoke Exposure

Exposure to surgical smoke has been linked to a number of acute health conditions:

Long Term Effects of Surgical Smoke Exposure

The long-term effects of chronic exposure to surgical smoke are still relatively unknown.

You can read more about the dangers of surgical smoke exposure through accessing the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Research Report (RR922): Evidence for exposure and harmful effects of diathermy plumes (surgical smoke).

Managing the Risks of Surgical Smoke

Healthcare professionals around the world have devised recommended practices, guidelines, standards and regulations concerning surgical smoke.

Common best-practice guidelines include:

  • Understanding the risks. All healthcare settings should have procedures in place that address the hazards of surgical smoke.
  • Adequate training. Any practitioner that may be exposed to surgical smoke should receive appropriate training to help them understand the risks and minimise their exposure.
  • Appropriate PPE. As ever, it’s important to choose the right PPE for the right procedure. When performing procedures that might produce surgical smoke, a standard surgical mask may not be adequate. Instead, practitioners should use a properly fitted respirator.

Smoke Evacuation Systems

Healthcare specialists around the world seem to agree that local exhaust ventilation (LEV) is the best defence against the risks of surgical smoke. Though operating theatres are generally well-ventilated, additional air purification systems can help control any excess smoke created by procedures.

The Blueair Health Protect 7440i Air Purifier can completely filter the air in a room of up to 38m² 4.8 times per hour. Its advanced filters can trap and kill up to 99.9% of potentially harmful particles in the air, including viruses, bacteria, and the hazardous chemicals contained in surgical smoke.

As well as supplying specialist air purifiers for healthcare settings, we also offer bespoke air quality monitoring systems. We can monitor your practitioner’s exposure to surgical smoke and other harmful substances, before presenting you with a detailed report complete with actionable recommendations.

Our workplace exposure monitoring will help you meet your COSHH obligations anywhere your staff and patients are exposed to hazardous substances in your hospital. Get in touch to talk to an air purification expert today.

 

Diathermy Smoke Plume Management & Guidance

What is a Diathermy Smoke Plume?

A diathermy smoke plume – also known as surgical smoke – is an emission created by certain surgical procedures that involve the use of heat to destruct tissue or seal bleeding vessels. Diathermy smoke plumes can contain numerous harmful chemicals, along with viruses, bacteria, and particulate matter.

What Causes Surgical Smoke?

Many devices can produce diathermy smoke plums, including lasers, ultrasonic devices, and high speed drills and burrs.

Diathermy Smoke Exposure

Exposure can lead to viral transmission along with certain acute health conditions, including asthma and asthma-like symptoms. And little is known about the long-term effects of chronic exposure to diathermy smoke plumes.

Read our full guide to the hazards associated with diathermy smoke plumes.

Diathermy Smoke Plume Management

Healthcare providers around the world have devised recommended practices, guidelines, standards and regulations concerning diathermy smoke plumes.

The best defence against smoke plumes is the practitioner. An AORN publication advised that practitioners should “use available tools and knowledge to minimise exposure to surgical smoke. Until there are regulations that reduce the occupational hazard of surgical smoke, become an expert in what can be done.” (Emphasis ours.)

In this post, we’ll explore some of the common best-practice guidelines concerning diathermy smoke plume management.

Electrosurgery Hazard Training and Support

First, all healthcare settings should have procedures in place that address the hazards associated with electrosurgery, including the risks of diathermy smoke plumes.

Also, any practitioner that may work with electrosurgical equipment, or who may be exposed to diathermy smoke plumes, should receive appropriate training to help them understand the risks and minimise their exposure.

Key things to cover in this training include:

  • The different types of electrosurgery equipment – the function and correct use of each, and how to minimise the associated risks.
  • How to rectify simple problems, and avoid risks to other theatre staff.
  • How to store electrosurgical items during procedures when they’re not in use.

Electrosurgical Equipment Storage & Management

There should be specific procedures in place regarding the use, storage and management of electrosurgical equipment.

Staff should be able to tell whether electrosurgical machines are in good order, and whether they’ve been correctly maintained. They should therefore know which checks to make prior to use.

To reduce the risks of smoke plumes and other health hazards, electrosurgical teams should aim to use the lowest power setting possible for safe and effective cutting and coagulation.

Patient Preparation

Practitioners should be familiar with preparing patients for procedures. But there are certain factors that may affect the use of electrosurgery:

  • The patient’s age, weight and fat distribution.
  • Active implants, such as pacemakers. Cardiologist teams may need to perform additional checks before and after the operation.
  • Considerations regarding the return electrode – such as the patient’s allergy to the electrode gel, and the position of the electrode in relation to the patient, the surgical site, and any scars, metal implants or other foreign bodies.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

As is always the case, it’s important to choose the right PPE for the right procedure.

When performing procedures that might produce surgical smoke, a standard surgical mask may not be adequate, as it may not filter out the small particles contained within the diathermy smoke plume.

So instead, practitioners should use a properly fitted facepiece respirator, such as an N95.

It’s important to test the respirator’s seal to ensure a correct fit. A specialist face fit testing service can help you ensure that all members of the electrosurgical team can depend on their respirators to protect them from the harmful effects of diathermy smoke plumes.

Smoke Evacuation Systems

Local exhaust ventilation (LEV) is one of the best defences against the risks of surgical smoke. This involves using specialist smoke extraction systems to remove the diathermy smoke plume at source. This, coupled with adequate PPE and a resilient and informed electrosurgical team, will make a huge difference in managing the risks of diathermy smoke plumes in operating theatres.

Operating theatres are generally well-ventilated, with strict regulations advising a set number of air changes per hour. But on top of these advanced air filtration systems, additional air purification units can help control any excess smoke created by procedures.

The Blueair Health Protect 7440i Air Purifier can completely filter the air in a room of up to 38m² the suggested 4.8 times per hour. Its advanced filters can trap and kill up to 99.9% of potentially harmful particles in the air down to 0.1 micron. This includes viruses, bacteria, and the hazardous chemicals contained in diathermy smoke plumes.

As well as supplying specialist air purifiers for healthcare settings, we also offer bespoke air quality monitoring systems. We can monitor your practitioner’s exposure to diathermy smoke plumes, before presenting you with a detailed report complete with actionable recommendations.

Further Guidance

 

How to Clean & Prevent Infection in GP Waiting Rooms

Every year, the UK is hit by multiple viruses. Some of these are seasonal, including influenza A, influenza B, RSV, and rhinovirus. And of course, we must now live with Covid-19 alongside these common viruses.

GP waiting rooms can inadvertently help spread infection. Patients may visit their GP about an unrelated condition, but leave having caught a new infection.

In this post, we’ll explore some of the measures GP surgeries can adopt to prevent and control the risks of infection, through the winter months and beyond.

New IPC Guidance Policies for GP Surgeries

The NHS Infection Prevention and Control team (IPC) released a new set of policies in July 2021. For more information, you can read the latest IPC guidelines for general practice.

Some of the advised measures include:

  • Site specific policies. All GP surgeries should have effective infection prevention control policies relevant for their practice. It should be regularly updated and accessible to all. Also, all surgeries should appoint an IPC lead, who has the authority to implement change where it’s needed.
  • The IPC policy should cover staff training requirements, and specify how frequently staff should receive training updates.
  • Contractors should follow a general cleaning schedule. This should include detailed guidelines for specific areas, fixtures, and fittings, with priority given to high-frequency touch items including door handles and light switches.
  • The IPC policy should advise on what PPE to use, and when. It should also cover staff training in effective use and disposal of PPE.

Cleaning & Infection Control in GP Waiting Rooms

Cleaning Waiting Room Soft Furnishings

Viruses and bacteria can linger and spread in the fibres of carpets and curtains. For this reason, clinical areas should not have carpets. But there should be clear policies in place for the frequency of cleaning carpets, curtains, and other soft furnishings in waiting rooms. There should also be specific guidelines to follow should any item of furniture get contaminated with body fluids or spillages.

Hand Hygiene in GP Waiting Rooms

All staff and patients should have access to adequate handwashing facilities. Staff should follow standard hand hygiene protocols. All patients should be encouraged to wash their hands as frequently as possible, and ideally before and after they interact with doors, light switches, and other possible infection vectors.

Cough and Sneeze Etiquette Communication

Catch it, bin it, kill it. All staff and patients should cover their nose and mouth with a disposable tissue when sneezing, coughing, wiping or blowing. They should then immediately dispose of that tissue before washing their hands. GP surgeries can promote good cough and sneeze etiquette among their patients through making the guidelines clearly visible, and through providing tissues, plastic bags for disposal, and hand hygiene facilities.

Read our full guide to standard infection control precautions. These precautions are relevant to all healthcare settings, which of course includes GP surgeries.

Ventilation Concerns for Infection Prevention and Control

GP waiting rooms are enclosed spaces where infected patients can spend extended periods of time. And in the winter months, waiting rooms are less likely to be adequately ventilated. Surgeries will keep their doors and windows closed while running their central heating. These conditions can create a hotbed of infection.

A good air purifier can completely filter the air in a room, trapping and killing any viruses that might be lingering in the atmosphere. This, combined with an effective cleaning policy, can make a huge difference in reducing the risk of infection in GP waiting rooms.

The Blueair air purifier has a Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR) that will completely filter the air in a GP waiting room 4.8 times an hour. It uses a series of filters to capture 99.97% of airborne particles as small as 0.1 micron – including many common seasonal viruses and bacteria.

You can browse our full range of air purifiers for healthcare settings.

Got some questions? Need some support? Get in touch to talk to our friendly team of expert air purification consultants.

How to Choose the Right Hospital-Grade Air Purifier

For an air purifier to be hospital-grade, it must meet any relevant standards for each specific setting.

Air Purifier Requirements for Hospital Departments

Different areas of the hospital will have different requirements. Some areas will have to meet COSHH obligations concerning exposure to certain hazardous substances. Whereas public spaces may simply need a good supply of clean air to help prevent the spread of infection.

Operating theatres and other clinical areas will have much more substantial requirements. For example, it may be necessary to meet certain standards regarding the number of air changes per hour (ACH).

Questions to Ask When Choosing the Right Hospital-Grade Air Purifier

So there is no off-the-shelf, one-size-fits-all solution for air purifiers in hospitals. Instead, for each setting you must consider:

  • How big is the space? All air purifiers will specify how large an area they can effectively clean. Larger spaces will need larger air purifiers, or perhaps even multiple purifiers.
  • Who will be using the space? As we outlined above, different areas of the hospital will have different requirements. For public and communal areas, such as canteens, corridors and waiting rooms, you’ll simply need a reliable supply of clean air to help with infection control. But in clinical areas, you may have to meet specific requirements, or monitor for specific substances.
  • What regulations do I have to meet? Match the air purifier’s specifications to whichever legislation or regulations apply to each setting. You’ll have to meet certain COSHH obligations in some areas of your hospital. In other areas, you may have to meet guidelines for the number of air changes per hour (ACH).
  • What sort of HVAC system am I working with? In hospitals and other healthcare settings, air purifiers are but one part of a wider heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) solution. The air purifier you choose must integrate with, or else complement, the existing system. You can read our full guide to air filtration systems in hospitals.

Examples of Hospital-Grade Air Purifiers

We specifically designed our range of HealthProtect air purifiers for hospitals and other healthcare settings. They use a series of advanced systems to provide 24/7 removal of viruses and bacteria, while quietly filtering the air to clean it for better infection prevention and control.

The Blueair HealthProtect 7740i air purifier is available in a choice of two sizes – one can filter the air in rooms up to 38m², while the larger model can filter the air in rooms up to 62m². Each model can deliver complete room filtration ever 12.5 minutes, as per industry recommendations. And each is capable of trapping and killing 99% of viruses and bacteria while removing dust, pollen, dander, mould, VOCs, and odours.

Need some guidance on choosing the right air purifier for your hospital? Get in touch to talk to our friendly team of expert air purification consultants.

We also offer bespoke air quality monitoring services. This involves monitoring staff and patient exposure levels to harmful substances, such as Entonox, sevoflurane, isoflurane, and inhalable and respirable dust. Learn more about our exposure monitoring services, and get in touch for a free quote today.

How Many Dentists Have Left the NHS?

In the past few years, thousands of dentists have left the NHS.

How Many NHS Dentists Are There?

According to one report, at the end of 2020 there were 23,733 dentists providing NHS care in England. By the end of January 2022, this figure had fallen to 21,544.

As each dentist manages a caseload of around 2,000 patients , this mass desertion has lead to the creation of “dental deserts”, leaving approximately four million people without access to dental care on the NHS.

It looks like the problem is only going to get worse, too. According to the British Dental Association (BDA), 75% of UK dentists are likely to reduce, or further reduce, their NHS commitment over the next 12 months. 45% claim they’re going to go fully private, and 47% suggest they’re either going to change career or seek early retirement.

Why Are So Many Dentists Leaving the NHS?

Shawn Charlwood, chair of the BDA’s General Dental Practice Committee, attributes the mass exodus to dentists feeling “overstretched and underfunded” during and after the recent Covid-19 pandemic.

According to BDA figures, 87% of UK dentists have experienced symptoms of stress, burnout and other mental health problems over the last 12 months. And it seems that patients, frustrated by the lack of available NHS dentist appointments, may be taking out their anger on staff. 86% of UK dentist report that colleagues in their practice have received physical or verbal abuse from patients.

What’s the Problem with the NHS Dental Contract?

The BDA argues that the current NHS dental contract, which has been in place since 2006, “puts government contracts ahead of patient need”.

For years, this contract set untenable incentives. For example, dentists would receive the same renumeration for doing one filling as they would for doing 10. It’s for such reasons that the Health Select Committee described the contract as “unfit for purpose”.

NHS Dental Contract Changes in 2022/23

In July 2022, the government announced a number of changes to the NHS dental contract. These included:

  • A new minimum payment for hitting targets.
  • A higher reward for treating three or more teeth.
  • Dental therapists can now accept patients for certain NHS treatments, freeing up dentists’ time for more urgent and complex procedures.
  • New payment rates for more complex treatments.
  • Updates to the NHS website and directory of services to help patients find dentists in their local area.

The BDA argued that these new contractual arrangements “do not even begin to address the system’s fundamental flaws… this is another attempt to conjure up more capacity without adding any new investment.”

The Collapse of Dentistry on the NHS?

In September 2022, NHS England released on update on the reforms their dental contract changes for 2022/2023.

The BDA, who previously claimed that “dentists are simply not seeing a future in the NHS”, seems cautiously optimistic that these changes may make a difference. However, they’ve also described these changes as “modest and marginal”, claiming that dentistry needs an immediate funding injection of £880m to stabilise the situation in the short-term.

Eddie Crouch, chairman of the BDA, called for “real commitment; root-and-branch reform and adequate funding.

And unless the government makes this “real commitment” soon, it seems that dentists will continue to leave the NHS, and those “dental deserts” will continue to grow.

A Message to Dental Patients

Despite the problems many are having seeing a dentist on the NHS, Chief Dental Officer for England Sara Hurley said that anyone experiencing tooth issues should contact their local dentist as usual.

She said: “Infection prevention and control measures to protect staff and patients were introduced during the pandemic. These limited the number of procedures NHS dentists could carry out.”

“However, these restrictions have now been lifted enabling practices to operate at full capacity for the first time in two years, so anyone with concerns about their dental health should contact their local dentist as they usually would or seek advice from NHS 111.”

A Message to Dental Surgeries

We know that the last few years have been difficult and that you’ve probably had to deal with higher levels of staff absences due to infection. We’d love you to see how,  by installing our Blueair air purifiers in your surgery, you can tacklethis issue and reduce illness. Why not get in touch with us to find out how we can support you?