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National approach for healthcare associated infection quality improvement

Infection prevention and control
28 May 2019

District health boards (DHBs) have agreed to fund a new model for an effective and sustainable whole-of-sector approach to healthcare associated infection (HAI) in New Zealand.

The partnership between DHBs and the Health Quality & Safety Commission will provide sustainable funding to support initiatives to reduce HAIs. The funding takes effect from 1 July 2019.

HAIs and resistance to the antibiotics used to treat them are a growing issue for the New Zealand health sector. HAIs cause harm to patients and whānau, and are a significant cost to DHBs and the wider sector.

Julie Patterson, chair of the Commission’s strategic infection prevention and control advisory group, says that maintaining a strong and centrally managed HAI presence is an ongoing investment in patient safety and sector efficiency.

‘We know that other countries with a sustainable approach to HAI surveillance and improvement have significantly lower infection rates.’

‘This funding will contribute directly towards an increase in the core national capability; providing expertise, resources, infrastructure and engagement with the sector. This includes a clinical leadership and expert advisory group, shared data and information systems as well as workshops and training.

‘Over time the HAI programme expects to work with the sector to increase the spread of existing interventions while also increasing the scope to include a wider range of HAIs and enhancing local sustainability,’ says Ms Patterson.

The Commission already works with DHBs and private surgical hospitals to improve hand hygiene practice and reduce surgical site infections following orthopaedic and cardiac surgery.

National compliance with the 5 moments for Hand Hygiene has increased from 62 percent in 2012 to 86 percent in March 2019. Since August 2015, there has been a reduction in surgical site infection rates for orthopaedic surgery from 1.2 percent of operations to 0.9 percent of operations. This equates to 94 fewer infections between August 2015 and June 2018, saving up to $3.8 million.

More information about the Commission's infection prevention and control programme can be found here.