Quality improvement statement 7: Communication


Trusts ensure there is clear communication with all staff, patients and carers throughout the care pathway about HCAIs, infection risks and how to prevent HCAIs, to reduce harm from infection.

What does this mean for people visiting, or receiving treatment in, hospitals?

People visiting, or receiving treatment in, hospitals can expect to be provided with information on how to reduce the risks of an HCAI and to be given the opportunity to discuss HCAIs with staff.

Patients who have an HCAI can expect to be:

  • notified of their infection

  • told about the impact it will have on their care

  • given relevant information about minimising the risk to others.

What does it mean for trust boards?

Boards ensure processes are in place to communicate relevant information about minimising the risk of (and from) HCAIs to patients, carers, visitors and staff. They also ensure staff have access to relevant patient information resources and up-to-date local surveillance information so they can communicate about HCAIs effectively.

Evidence of achievement

1. Evidence of mechanisms to ensure transparent communication of all relevant surveillance outputs to staff and patients.

2. Evidence that local health and social care services provide consistent patient and carer information on infection prevention and control.

3. Evidence that trust policies on infection prevention and control are available to, and used by, all staff.

4. Evidence that arrangements are in place to ensure providers in different settings can identify and communicate infection risks as the patient moves between services.

5. Evidence that patients, carers and visitors have access to up-to-date, accurate and easy to understand information about their own HCAI (if applicable) or HCAIs generally, in a suitable format. This includes evidence that they have access to information on the potential risk of infection and existing treatment and control measures.

6. Evidence that patients with an HCAI are informed of their infection and the implications for their care.

7. Evidence that staff are trained to (and can) communicate in an appropriate manner with patients and their carers about how to prevent, and reduce harm from, HCAIs.

8. Evidence of ongoing and timely dialogue with patients and carers throughout the trust's care pathway regarding the risk of HCAIs and how to prevent them.

Practical examples

  • Audit of communications between different health and social care providers detailing any infections (for example, an audit of discharge summaries to GPs and admission letters from care homes).

  • Audit of patient records for communication about HCAIs (for example, their MRSA status) throughout their hospital episode.

  • Audit of patient records for communication about how to prevent HCAIs (for example, hand-hygiene procedures) throughout their hospital episode.

  • Patient surveys on the trust's communication about HCAIs, and about their understanding of the risks.

  • Availability of easy to understand, standardised information on HCAIs for patients, carers and staff.

  • Availability of standardised trust policies on infection prevention and control.

  • Audit central venous catheter and indwelling catheter procedures to check they follow trust policies on infection prevention and control.

  • Audit of antimicrobial stewardship programmes to ensure good prescribing practice (for example, appropriate use of prophylactic antibiotics in surgery).

Health and Social Care Act code of practice

Criterion 3: Guidance for compliance 3.1

Criterion 4: Guidance for compliance 4.1, 4.2

Relevant national indicators

None identified.

  • National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)