Informing the board and protecting patients were the key strands of one trust's infection control drive, writes Alison Norman

As a tertiary cancer centre, the Christie Hospital foundation trust in Manchester treats many patients whose immunity is compromised, either by their disease or the treatments they are receiving.

For many, healthcare-acquired infections are as life threatening as their cancer.

Most of our patients come to us from other healthcare organisations, where they may have already been exposed to infectious agents while receiving first-line treatment, so we have devised a framework for action on infection control so that the board understands the issue thoroughly and our patients are protected when at their most vulnerable.

An integrated performance report sets out achievement at trust level for board members.

In the report, infection control data is presented monthly alongside the more traditional key performance indicators and the board is provided with analysis in graph format, describing MRSA bacteraemia (against trajectory), MRSA colonisation, Clostridium difficile as measured against a 16 per cent reduction target, and GRE (glycopeptide-resistant Enterococcal) bacteraemia which, although not nationally monitored, is an important clinical issue for us.

A commentary section provides opportunity for explanation and details by exception any particular problem or service disruption.

Patient feedback on cleanliness is also reported as part of an overall monthly satisfaction survey.

Standards of cleanliness are monitored through monthly inspection rounds of all wards and patient areas.

This ensures practical problems are seen on site and frontline clinicians are consulted about the day-to-day experience of infection control. Issues from these rounds can be directed through the divisional line, and/or directly to the infection prevention and control director at monthly senior nurse/matron meetings.

This approach, combining frontline monitoring with regular board attention, puts the board at the heart of the trust's core business of protecting and caring for patients.