PATIENTS and hospital visitors are being urged to take part in, and help measure compliance with, a new hand hygiene campaign run by Gwent’s health board.

Called “It’s In Your Hands”, the campaign has been launched to coincide with the World Health Organisation’s global Hand Hygiene Day.

Hand hygiene is considered the single most important factor in preventing the spread of infection and the campaign in Gwent will feature posters, banner stands, videos, and hand hygiene roadshows in pharmacies and GP surgeries. It will also be heavily featured on Aneurin Bevan University Health Board’s Twitter and Facebook feeds.

Ten years ago, the Wales-wide Clean Your Hands campaign was credited with driving significant reductions in healthcare-associated infections. As a consequence, all wards across Wales now undertake monthly hand-hygiene audits with the results fed back to healthcare workers.

The new campaign, however, intends to stress the importance of hand hygiene not only in hospitals, but also the wider community, including GP surgeries, care homes and homes.

The health board project is also designed to enable patients and their relatives to meet hand-hygiene compliance in hospitals, allowing them to feed back their observations in confidence.

Stringent hand hygiene is vital in helping to minimise a wide range of infections that can close wards to new admissions and disrupt patient flows in hospitals.

MRSA (methycillin resistant streptococcus aureus) and Clostridium Difficile are the superbugs that regularly hit the headlines and hand-hygiene controls, along with other measures, have been key in reducing their spread.

In Gwent hospitals, the number of C Difficile cases fell to 212 in 2012/13, effectively half the rate of two years previously.

A deep-cleaning programme, using hydrogen peroxide vapour, which has been introduced for wards, is being extended to include cubicles. But hand hygiene remains the frontline method for helping prevent infection in such hospital settings, not least because it can be promoted and encouraged among staff, patients and visitors.

l Information about the It’s In Your Hands campaign can be found at