6 March 2020

It is a clinical priority at Royal Papworth that the hospital is a safe environment for patients, visitors and staff and that we protect everyone from the risk of infection. Through education, audit and providing support to staff across the hospital, the infection prevention and control (IPC) and tissue viability nurse (TVN) team plays a pivotal role in ensuring this.

The IPC team works closely with staff on the wards to ensure that hospital associated infections, such as MRSA and Clostridium difficile, are minimised and to ensure high standards of infection control procedures are maintained.

As part of their role, they carry out regular audits to maintain situational awareness of threats posed by infection, and manage outbreaks when they occur. The IPC nurses collaborate closely with the Trust’s microbiology medical team to review test results, assess isolation precautions and decide on treatments. This culture of teamwork is central to delivering safe and effective care in respect of infection prevention and control.

The team also delivers education for staff in both prevention and management through training and on IPC ward rounds.

The TVN team works closely with Royal Papworth’s surgical teams and wider multidisciplinary team in the clinical area, with the significant responsibility of protecting the integrity of the patient’s skin while they are in hospital.

The team takes a holistic approach to assessing the wounds of patients, whether they are surgical wounds or pressure ulcers (also known as bed sores), and focus not only on the skin injury but on the patient’s recovery as a whole in order to support healing of wounds at the earliest possible time.

They review patients on the wards, in a nurse-led wound review clinic and will also see patients at Cambridge University Hospitals (CUH) if they require expert cardiothoracic wound care advice.

The surgical site surveillance (SSI) team, which forms part of the IPC and TVN department, plays a vital role in the surveillance of wound infection following surgery. The data they collect is a critical evaluation of the care given to surgical patients through their admission at Royal Papworth. This data is reported both internally and externally to a national surveillance programme to identify SSI trends and identify whether changes need to be made in practice to improve patient care.

“Every day is different,” emphasised Katy Rintoul, Infection Control Nurse. “We may be supporting infection control procedures on the ward one day, the next it could be trust-wide IPC education and on other days it could be supporting 'train the trainer' fit testing.

“It’s a rewarding job as we help maintain the safety of patients and staff across our hospital.” 

Read more from the team in the latest edition of Newsbeat, available now in the main atrium of the hospital.