From 43: Most hospitals have bottles of alcohol-based hand disinfectant by their doors, but Duerden says that until recently their inefficacy against C diff spores was not common knowledge outside microbiology circles an unacceptable level of ignorance, insists Wise, who said it had been known about for donkeys years.
Olav Nataas, however, insists the search-and-destroy process is key: We know hand-washing is never 100%, he says. This preoccupation with cleaning is not the main issue. It is identifying the infection as rapidly as possible and treating it in a way that does not risk others.
It is this uncertainty among Britains scientists, healthcare administrators and politicians that has led to the latest disagreement about hospital cleaning. This month, every hospital in Britain is meant to have completed a special deep clean, for which an extra £57m has been allocated. How exactly a deep clean is performed is less clear. There are no prescriptions for cleaning materials, training for cleaners, or methods of checking whether things are actually clean.
Nobody is keen to define what clean means in hospital terms and, according to Andrew Large, the director-general of the Cleaning and Support Services Association, some hospitals are doing nothing at all. There is no specification about whether hospitals are clean or not, but there is plenty of academic evidence that a greater presence of people doing routine cleaning on wards is what makes a difference, he says. After all, you could do a deep clean, but if the person inspecting it goes in and sneezes when they happen to be carrying one of these infections, you are back to square one.
Whoa. That is scary.