Poll shows hospital cleanliness now a greater concern for the public than waiting lists
• Public fear risk of infection and superbugs
• NHS can learn from private sector expertise
An opinion poll published today (Tuesday, Nov 10) shows that cleanliness and hygiene are of greater concern to the public than shorter waiting lists when receiving treatment in NHS hospitals.
Fears over risk of infection and superbugs, such as Clostridium Difficile and MRSA, as well as general hospital cleanliness top the list of concerns for prospective patients (29%), followed by standards of treatment and care (26%) with waiting lists, traditionally a worry for NHS patients, in third position (20%).
The COMRES poll was conducted for General Healthcare Group, the UK’s largest private hospital provider, and using an entirely open question members of the public were asked to name their biggest concerns about being treated in an NHS hospital. Some 30% of people express no concerns about NHS hospital treatment but the remaining 70% highlight a variety of issues ranging from superbugs through to availability of car parking spaces.
The survey results also reveal variations among different age groups. 18-24 year-olds are most concerned about prompt treatment and waiting lists while over-65s place equal importance on quality of care and being treated with respect as standards of cleanliness and infection risks. Of those anxious about quality of care issues (26%) some highlight worries about levels of treatment and the experience of medical staff, whereas others are more concerned about being treated with respect and courtesy and being given the correct medicine.
Adrian Fawcett, Chief Executive of General Healthcare Group, which is the parent company of BMI Healthcare and has more than 60 hospitals across the UK, said: “Hospital cleanliness and hygiene is paramount to any health provider and is the bedrock on which we build our services. Traditionally, waiting lists and access to timely treatment have ranked as the public’s top concerns for NHS treatment, but this poll shows that they are now more worried about hygiene and infection control.
“The survey results are a good sign for private hospitals, where cases of MRSA blood infections and Clostridium Difficile are extremely low."
Education and greater access to information is another key element in reducing hospital infection rates and BMI Healthcare has been spreading the word about the importance of hand-washing. Between now and September next year, infection control co-ordinators, nurses and other medical staff from several of BMI’s hospitals across the country are providing free hand-washing and hygiene training sessions at schools and businesses.
Sue Manning, Head of Infection Prevention and Control, BMI Healthcare, said: “BMI Healthcare’s robust infection control practices enable all of our hospitals to continually maintain low infection rates. Given this success in infection prevention, we thought that we would be well placed to share some of what we do in the hospital environment with students and workers in our surrounding communities.”