Lancet critises MRSA movesMedical journal dismisses 'deep cleans'

28 September 2007

Recent government initiatives to combat superbugs were today condemned by a leading medical journal for not being based on scientific fact.

The Lancet said there was little or no evidence to support either hospital 'deep cleans' or medical staff wearing short-sleeves.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced new plans to 'deep clean' hospitals on Sunday.

Hospital dress code

Last week Health Secretary Alan Johnson pledged a new dress code for staff would advise against long-sleeved coats and ties for doctors.

Efforts to fight killer bugs like MRSA should instead focus on disinfecting work surfaces, the journal said.

In a highly critical editorial, the magazine says government - sponsored research found there was little evidence to support short-sleeves.

'Disinfection of high-touch surfaces is what is needed, more so than removing visible dirt,' the magazine says.

'The public understandably wants clean wards and crisp uniforms, but politicians must stop pandering to populism about hospital cleanliness and listen to the evidence. Brown also plans to double the number of hospital matrons, to check on ward cleaning, and accost doctors wearing long sleeves.

'They would be better employed making sure doctors, nurses and visitors wash their hands properly, the proven way to stop hospital acquired infections.'

Cleaning

Writing in the News of the World, the Prime Minister said: 'We know that, over time, ingrained cleanliness problems build up, especially in hard-to-reach places like ceilings and ventilation ducts, which cannot be dealt with by day-to-day cleaning.'

'So over the next year, for the first time, every hospital will receive a 'deep clean' designed to return our hospitals to the state they were in when they were built. A ward at a time, walls, ceilings, fittings and ventilation shafts will be disinfected and scrubbed clean.'

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