Working in infection prevention and control (IPC) within the NHS has always carried huge responsibility, centred around the prevention of hospital-associated infections, which affect more than 600,000 hospital inpatients annually.
The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has exponentially increased the responsibility resting on IPC teams. As well as the immediate need to prevent people infected with SARS-CoV-2 from passing it on to other patients, there’s also been the requirement to prevent vital frontline staff from getting sick, and also to keep the NHS going on a day-to-day basis.
Millions of people have had routine and elective procedures (few of which are truly elective) cancelled because going into hospital was simply too risky. It’s been up to IPC directors and their teams to figure out how to keep the NHS working through the crisis – and as we emerge, it’s up to them to plan how we tackle the backlogs safely, and ensure we’re prepared should a crisis like this ever occur again.
IPC directors are responsible for many different aspects of infection control throughout the hospital, but hygiene and the management of domestic services operators are a large part of this. Going forward, it’s the IPC teams in hospitals who must decide on the best strategies for hygiene against the backdrop of what we’ve learned from this pandemic, and the availability of human resources.
It became apparent very early in the SARS-Cov-2 crisis that existing systems for hospital disinfection were a finger in the dike and that a much more scalable approach would be required in the long-term. The use of wipes and trigger sprays remains widespread throughout the NHS even now, but there’s widespread recognition that these labour-intensive methods are not sustainable for the kind of large area, high frequency disinfection that’s now becoming the baseline in hospitals.
So what does VIRONEX mean for IPC professionals?
It’s no surprise that the Covid crisis has IPC professionals looking for faster, less labour-intensive and more effective ways of disinfecting large areas – and that they’re turning to technology for a solution. Manual disinfection is a slow process with lots of opportunities for human error in the mixing and application of disinfectant solutions, whereas the latest high-tech systems offer a fully automated alternative that can be deployed by just one person.
However, many hospital trusts are discovering that these systems – such as UVC and hydrogen peroxide – come with their own challenges. For starters, both are highly labour intensive, not in their actual use, but in the preparation phase. UV light only disinfects surfaces that it hits directly so anything that casts shadows must be removed from the room being treated, including furniture, equipment and curtains. Anything that can’t be removed – for example wall-mounted equipment and cabinets – must be opened to allow the UV light in, and surfaces must be scrupulously clean, because it’s not effective in dirty conditions.
HPV works in dirty conditions but it’s a high-risk decontamination strategy that requires a robust preparation process to make it safe. Hydrogen peroxide vapour is highly toxic and therefore steps must be taken to ensure humans aren’t exposed to it during and after use. All absorbent materials must be removed from the room because they can act as a ‘sink’ for the vapour, releasing it back into the air later on. Any potential leaks – including door and window apertures, and ventilation systems, must be sealed using a special membrane to make sure no vapour escapes. The vapour is deployed remotely, and it can be hours before it’s safe to go back in the room.
Convenient, sustainable disinfection
VIRONEX offers the same broad-spectrum efficacy as both of these systems, without any of the hassle. It’s effective against 99.999% of bacteria, viruses and spores, including C. difficile, and allows large surface areas to be treated quickly, while retaining all the immediacy and simplicity of manual disinfection processes.
VIRONEX is a pre-mixed formula supplied in a pressurised canister so there’s no need for measuring and mixing – simply grab and go when you need to disinfect. It’s also very safe – the system is non-flammable, with no power supply required so it can be used and stored almost anywhere. It’s suitable for all surfaces, which means no need to evacuate or seal up rooms before use – even vinyls, metal and electronic equipment can be decontaminated in a single step using VIRONEX.
VIRONEX is ultra convenient. It’s a spray and leave system with an optimised, 20-micron continuous mist application that delivers superior surface coverage with no need to wipe. It dries fast, and falls out of suspension quickly – the exclusion time after treating a room with VIRONEX is just ten minutes. This means that busy department don’t have lengthy periods of bed downtime, and allows spaces like waiting rooms to be decontaminated much more regularly throughout the day and night.
VIRONEX is easy to implement, with minimal training, and easy to maintain since there’s no complex machinery or programming to go wrong. We believe that the simpler disinfection processes are, the more effective they’ll be in the long term, reducing the burden on domestic services staff and IPC professionals, making life easier for frontline healthcare workers, and ultimately improving outcomes for patients.
VIRONEX is currently being trialled within our NHS, putting every aspect of the system to the test in medical environments. We’ll be sharing feedback in the coming weeks, so watch this space! For further information, get in touch.