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Surveillance of healthcare associated infections in Wales is conducted by a national programme – the Welsh Healthcare Associated Infection Programme (WHAIP).  WHAIP is part of Public Health Wales, the NHS Trust set up in 2009 to provide professionally independent public health advice and services to protect and improve the health and wellbeing of the population of Wales

The WHAIP team collects data from all seven Health Boards and 1 Trust with current surveillance programmes for  Clostridium difficile infections, blood stream infections due to meticillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and meticillin sensitive Staphylococcus aureus (MSSA) as well as on the commonest (top 10) blood stream infections, including Escherichia coli.

Data is also collected on outbreaks of HCAI within NHS Wales, surveillance of surgical site infections in orthopaedic elective surgery and Caesarean section surgery, and surveillance of infections on critical care related to central lines and ventilator pneumonia.

Point prevalence surveys are also conducted.  During 2010, a survey of HCAI in long term care facilities was undertaken and in 2011, a prevalence survey of healthcare associated infections, antimicrobial usage and medical device usage was co-ordinated jointly by WHAIP and the Antimicrobial Resistance Programme of Public Health Wales. Data were collected across the whole of NHS Wales including more than 9,000 patients.

The WHAIP has a specialist advisory role as well as a surveillance one, advising the Welsh Government and other NHS Wales organisations on the burden of healthcare associated infections in Wales and methods of infection control. In its advisory capacity, WHAIP produces Infection Control Model policies and guidance. The Infection Control Forum has been developed to allow infection control specialists and other interested parties to share best practice, learn from each other, share the latest surveillance information and discuss current issues.

Infection Control Specialists within the team visit Health Boards and Trusts throughout Wales to support outbreak management and the use of surveillance data for improvement.

Education and training opportunities are also provided by the programme through the Infection Control Forum and also through an “Information For Action” course run annually to develop Infection Prevention and Control Team skills in data analysis, use of surveillance data for action and improvement and the use of epidemiological tools to investigate outbreaks. The next course will run in June 2012.

The 1,000 Lives Plus patient safety programme in Wales is also hosted by Public Health Wales and includes a mini-collaborative on healthcare associated infections. The current work is to disseminate and implement improved management of peripheral vascular cannulae and urinary catheters. A new campaign, S.T.O.P., has been developed to support this work and encourages medical staff to carefully consider alternative options to these devices and to monitor for healthcare associated infections when their insertion is deemed necessary.

More information on the WHAIP programme is available at

More information on Public Health Wales is available at

Written by Dr Eleri Davies
Tuesday, 01 May 2012 12:12

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