Hospital Acquired Infection (HAI) costs the NHS £2.7 billion per year in increased hospital stays and related treatment. Each case adds around £3,200 to the cost of a care episode. That doesn’t include around 80,000 working days lost every year to staff absence as a result of HAI.
Coincidentally, the Government’s Health Infrastructure Plan will see an investment of £2.7 billion on six new hospitals to be completed by 2025.
What if we could reduce HAI by half and release another £1.35 billion of savings for investment into better quality healthcare? We don’t need to jump into a DeLorean and travel to the future for the answer. The tools to more effectively decontaminate hospital facilities have been around for years.
For example, trials have shown that the use of hydrogen peroxide vapour (HPV) to disinfect hospital rooms has reduced HAI rates by around 50%. But it has been resisted within the NHS because of the additional cost and staff training.
Instead of the lowest bid approach that value engineers most of the innovation out of new hospital design, the NHS needs to recognise whole life cost benefit and be brave enough to invest in technology that saves lives and money.