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Coming together to fight healthcare associated infections

9 December 2013

Theatre nurses, operating department practitioners, infection prevention and control nurses and senior healthcare managers came together at 3M’s head office in Bracknell, Berkshire, in November to explore the challenges of reducing healthcare associated infections in perioperative practice.

The conference followed the creation of the OneTogether programme, an initiative developed by 3M’s Infection Prevention Division in partnership with the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), Association for Perioperative Practice (AfPP), Infection Prevention Society (IPS) and College of Operating Department Practitioners (CODP).

OneTogether is a framework for communication and collaboration and aims to educate, engage and empower the healthcare community to reduce preventable healthcare associated infections (HCAIs), with an initial focus on improving outcomes in perioperative practice and developing a national toolkit.

Although progress has been made, it is estimated that preventable healthcare associated infections (HCAIs) cost the NHS at least £1bn annually and cause at least 5000 deaths.1

Opening the conference, 3M’s managing director for the UK and Ireland, Paul Keel, said:  “Unlike other conditions, many HCAIs are thought to be preventable and are something we can control by using practices and procedures that have been around for years.  The challenge of the OneTogether programme is to introduce a common understanding of the issues by sharing and cascading expertise.

“Bringing these four key groups focused on infection prevention together with industry partners is in itself an achievement and, as a united group, the possibilities for changing patient outcomes are endless.”

As well as a motivational coaching session and keynote speakers from the Infection Prevention Society and the Royal College of Nursing, the conference included three workshops giving delegates the chance to explore a wide range of procedures designed to reduce the risk of infection on a patient’s surgical pathway.

These debated the evidence base and ownership of pre-operative, intra-operative and post-operative procedures such as skin preparation, wound management and patient temperature management and addressed challenges to compliance.  Each group was then invited to take part in a ‘blue sky thinking’ session.

Said Kathryn Topley, 3M clinical efficiency manager:  “The workshops were a fantastic opportunity to share knowledge and explore ideas from theatre staff and infection prevention experts.  We will use the findings to shape a national toolkit to support the implementation of best-practice infection prevention guidance.”

In her session, Jennie Wilson, board member of IPS, said:  “This is a unique opportunity to use the expertise of the four organisations.  Research shows that at any one time five per cent of surgical patients will have a surgical site infection2 and although this is a major issue for patients undergoing surgery, there is a paucity of data on the risks of surgical site infection for most types of surgery.  The infections can double the length of stay in hospital, increase the cost of care by up to four times and, in the case of vascular surgery, increase the risk of death by seven times.3

“Studies also show that theatre culture and discipline can make a positive difference and results improve where there is strong leadership, good communication, low staff turnover, perioperative efficiency and fewer trainees.” 4

Rose Gallagher, the Royal College of Nursing’s infection prevention and control advisor, then spoke about the value of link staff. She said: “These roles are expanding across different settings, including infection prevention and control, and with benefits to patients and healthcare organisations, as they support the implementation of policy into practice.

“Introducing link roles across surgical settings and patient pathways is a valuable part of the jigsaw and an opportunity to improve patient outcomes.”

Speaking about the conference, 3M senior marketing executive Jonathan Neachell said:  “It was a great opportunity for networking and collaboration and truly delivered the spirit of the OneTogether programme which is demonstrating that the power of small actions can result in positive change.

“Feedback from delegates was extremely positive, with the vast majority saying that they intend to use the skills and knowledge that they learnt and were inspired to take action.”

For a short video capturing the essence of the event, click here.

3M is committed to providing support to raise awareness and increase the momentum of this important effort.  Those passionate about reducing HCAIs can join the movement and unite with 3M and its professional association partners.  Learn more by visiting www.joinonetogether.org

To review current activities and engage in the debate, join us at www.facebook.com/3mInfectionPreventionSolutions


  1. NAO (2000) UK National Audit Office Report: The Management and Control of HAI in Acute NHS Trusts in England (HC 230 1999/00)
    NAO (2009). The prevention, management and control of Healthcare Associated Infections (HCAI) in hospitals.
  2. Smyth et al. Hospital Infection Society Prevalence Survey Steering Group (2008). Four Country Healthcare Associated Infection Prevalence Survey 2006: overview of the results. Journal of Hospital Infection; 69:230–48.
  3. Coello R, Charlett A, Wilson J, Ward V, Pearson A, Boriello P (2005) Adverse impact of surgical site infections in English hospitals. J. Hospital Infection; 60: 93-10.
  4. Campbell et al (2008) Surgical Site Infection Prevention: The Importance of Operative Duration and Blood Transfusion – Results of the First American College of Surgeons- National Surgical Quality Improvement Program Best Practices Initiative.  Journal of American  College of Surgeons; vol 207, issue 6: 810-820.

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Media Contact
Julie Owen
3M Corporate Communications UK & Ireland
+44 (0)1509 613372