New rules for reporting hospital infection rates will offer the public unprecedented transparency about their local hospital's performance.
Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said the new HAI reporting template would allow health boards and the new Care Environment Inspectorate to monitor infection trends more closely.
All boards will now be required to complete the standard template which will:
- Report rates of MRSA and Clostridium Difficile for each hospital and provide comparisons against the national average and national targets (at present, infections are reported on a health board rather than individual hospital basis)
- Report hand hygiene and cleaning compliance
- Be published every two months and discussed at NHS Board meetings, which are open to the public.
Ms Sturgeon made the announcement during a visit to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary where she also saw a demonstration of the hospital's electronic bed management system which may be used in future to track infection incidence and improve infection control.
"It's vital that everyone has confidence in their NHS and the standard of care they will receive if they need to go into hospital.
"That's why tackling healthcare associated infections (HAIs) is a top priority for us. Today's announcement is part of a package of measures designed to both address the problem and boost public confidence.
"The HAI template will, for the first time, ensure we have clear, standardised and transparent information available on infection rates not just in all health board areas but in hospitals as well.
"Better monitoring will allow us to identify any infection troublespots and take urgent action to address problems, while also giving the public unprecedented levels of local information.
"I've also been interested to hear how ARI's electronic bed management is making patient care more efficient.
"Using technology to streamline bed management is something I am keen to see in action, particularly as the NHS copes with extra demand for beds over the winter."
During her visit, Ms Sturgeon also opened a £4.5 million Cardiac Catheterisation Unit which provides a range of specialised heart procedures - from angiograms to pacemaker fitting - for patients from Grampian, Tayside, Highland and Orkney.
"ARI's Cardiac Catheterisation Unit is already helping highly specialised staff treat patients more quickly and as close to home as possible - both top priorities for the Scottish Government."
NHS Grampian chairman David Cameron said:
"We are delighted to welcome the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing and highlight some of our innovative work which is benefiting patients in the north east and beyond."
The implementation of an HAI Reporting Template was a requirement of the action plan published following the Vale of Leven investigations and reports. The template will form the basis of infection control managers' annual reports.
Health boards will now begin using the template for all future bi-monthly Board meetings.
The Care Environment Inspectorate will carry out unannounced inspections of hospitals to scrutinise all aspects of infection control. A consultation on the inspection process concluded in December and the Inspectorate will start its work later this year.
The Cardiac Catheterisation Unit uses the latest technology to provide diagnostic angiograms, angioplasty therapy (where a balloon or stent is used to open an artery in the heart), pacemaker or defibrillator implantation and other specialised procedures. More than 3,000 patients will use the new unit each year.
ARI's bed management system allows staff to view in real-time how many hospital beds are occupied, giving managers and clinical staff the most up-to-date capacity information. This ensures patients are admitted and discharged without delay.