Standard procedures to prevent the spread of infections were not implemented “consistently” in two-thirds of Scottish hospitals and NHS services inspected in the past year, a report shows today.

The Healthcare Environment Inspectorate report, published by health body Healthcare Improvement Scotland, found one or more of the standard infection-control procedures were not implemented consistently in 22 of the 35 acute hospitals and services inspected.

It also found out-of-date policies in seven hospitals and services and that in five NHS boards inspected, the infection control manager “did not have overall responsibility for all aspects of infection control”.

Communication “needs to be improved” in 17 of the hospitals and services and “complex management structures” made communication less effective.

The report made nine recommendations.

Health boards must ensure “effective communication” between senior staff, infection control teams, ward staff and estates staff, and that infection control managers must have “clear roles and responsibilities”.

Systems are needed to manage infection-control manuals effectively, while cleaning schedules for both equipment and the environment must be in place. And health boards must ensure staff follow the NHS dress code.

The report covers 38 inspections to 35 acute hospitals and services in 15 NHS boards between October 2010 and September 2011, 10 of which were announced.

While inspectors said all hospitals were generally clean, it said: “While we noted an improvement in maintaining up-to-date infection control manuals, we also found instances where some policies and procedures were not implemented.

“The basic principles of good infection control are set out in various precautions staff should take when caring for patients to prevent the spread of infection. These are known as standard infection-control precautions. We found 22 hospitals and services where one or more of the standard infection-control precautions were not implemented consistently.”