Published: 31/10/2002, Volume II2, No. 5829 Page 9

The Scottish health minister has written to all NHS boards calling for immediate action to tackle hospital acquired infections.

Malcolm Chisholm said boards and trusts must act urgently to take forward specific recommendations on cleaning and infection control and how outbreaks were managed.

He was speaking last week as a report was published into a salmonella outbreak at Glasgow's Victoria Infirmary, where three people died. The report, written by a group headed by retired microbiologist Dr Brian Watt, made 47 separate recommendations to be underpinned by a properly developed and funded infection control infrastructure.

The recommendations, which were endorsed by the minister, included giving the senior nurse and manager in each area responsibility for setting cleaning specifications.

The report also called for proper emphasis on all aspects of communication following accusations of a lack of openness in the Victoria Infirmary salmonella outbreak.

Mr Chisholm, who also published the HAI action plan Preventing Infections Acquired While Receiving Healthcare, said the recommendations would be taken forward by a task force led by Scotland's chief medical officer Dr Mac Armstrong.

Mr Chisholm said: 'This plan and its implementation will be a key priority for me and for NHS Scotland.'

Scottish Conservative health spokeswoman Mary Scanlon said the executive had allowed the situation to deteriorate 'by sitting on its hands'. She repeated calls for 'modern matrons' or 'super sisters' to improve hygiene standards.

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