Infection rates are being cut in NHS hospitals, while patients are spending less time in intensive care in some hospitals thanks to an improvement programme, the Scottish government has said.

The Scottish patient safety programme, which launched 20 months ago and is due to run for five years, aims to cut hospital mortality rates by 15 per cent, while reducing “adverse incidents” by 30 per cent.

Health secretary Nicola Sturgeon observed the improvements when she visited Stirling Royal Infirmary.

The programme sets daily goals for patient care, including ensuring that there is a regular discussion involving everyone caring for a patient, evaluating processes staff need to go through to prevent infection and ensuring that these are followed at all times.

The Scottish government says that the strategy has reduced the length of time patients are in intensive care and cut cases of ventilator-acquired pneumonia. There has not been a single patient with a centre-line infection, which is a tube to deliver drugs and food, since January 2008 at NHS Forth Valley.

“It’s not about new-fangled ideas, employing more staff or buying more equipment but about enabling staff to ensure that every single process they need to carry out to care for a patient is carried out every single time,” said Ms Sturgeon.