David Ford said: “As a public representative, I was delighted to have the opportunity to join Mr Stewart on his visit to two wards in our hospital. I was able to discuss a number of issues with staff who have responsibility for infection control at both hospital and ward level.
“I was very impressed by the high standards demonstrated by a range of staff. There is no doubt that the physical layout of the hospital does not always make it easy for staff in their work. In particular, there needs to be many more single rooms for those patients who benefit from isolation. However, within these limitations, members of staff are doing excellent work to provide the highest standards of care.
“I saw very high standards of cleanliness in all areas. Both wards had a number of staff who had undertaken specific training in infection control and ward managers who were fully aware of the need to care for their patients in a way that minimised risk.”
The Alliance representative continued by pointing out the responsibility of relatives and other visitors to the hospital to help maintain these standards.
” Antrim Hospital ensures that staff do not wear uniforms outside and has replaced duvets with blankets because they are easier to launder effectively. Patients are discouraged from having a clutter of items sitting on their lockers. They even have the hospital chaplains operating a ‘bare below the elbow’ policy. They also need visitors to play their part.
“The restriction on visiting time and on no more than two visitors per bed are not designed to make life difficult for visitors, but to control infections. It is important that relatives understand and accept this. Similarly, it is good to know that over 90% of visitors use the antiseptic gels as they enter the ward, but this should really be 100% both entering and leaving. I was told that the gel dispensers are being relocated in some wards to make them more obvious and I hope that this will help increase their use.
“Antrim Hospital has had much bad publicity in recent months over C diff infections. The rate of infection is now very low, but we have to recognize that C diff is present in a quarter of the population at all times. That is why it is vitally important to keep up the highest standards of infection control in all our hospitals. I believe that other hospitals could learn from the good work being done in Antrim.”