The Health Foundation has used learning from its safer patients initiative to advise on methodology that could be used when assessing whether acute trusts are complying with the hygiene code.

The foundation's recommendations are detailed in its recent response to the Healthcare Commission's consultation Developing the Annual Health Check in 2008-09.

The commission visits NHS trusts as part of the annual health check to assess how well they have performed during the financial year. Hospitals participating in the safer patients initiative are concerned that there is a lack of clarity about the commission's expectations of the annual visit process.

The Health Foundation believes its learning could help shape the way these visits are carried out.

The safer patients initiative uses an improvement approach that is changing the culture of patient safety in participating acute trusts. The foundation consulted a sample of the hospitals taking part to identify how they think compliance with the hygiene code could be assessed.

Its response recommends that the commission should consider developing a national proforma detailing its expectations of visits, to help trusts make the necessary preparations.

Several participating hospitals would also like key staff and patients to be involved in the assessment process, to help gather accurate information from a variety of sources.

The Health Foundation's response also covers how information gathered to assess compliance with the hygiene code can be used to improve patient safety, as well as how the systems it requires participating hospitals to put in place complement the requirements of the code.

For a full copy of our response, see