Who is responsible for infection prevention and control in a healthcare setting?

virus illustration

All healthcare settings should employ a trained Infection Prevention Lead to prevent and manage outbreaks of infection.

An organisation’s Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) Lead plays a very important part in keeping patients in a healthcare setting safe and healthy by minimising the risk of a potentially deadly outbreak of infection.

However, the IPC cannot prevent an infection outbreak alone, everyone employed by a healthcare organisation has a duty to act responsibility to help prevent the spread of infection.

Why is infection prevention and control so important?

Outbreaks of infection within healthcare settings like care homes and hospitals can be extremely dangerous and sometimes even life threatening to those being cared for.

Many people being looked after in healthcare settings are frail, unwell, or have compromised immune systems, meaning if they are exposed to any infection it could make them very unwell, very quickly.

Outbreaks of respiratory infections like the flu and Covid-19 and gastrointestinal infections like the Norovirus are particularly common in healthcare settings as they spread very easily.

Infections can be breathed in after they have become airborne when people cough, sneeze, or speak. They can also be spread by physical touch.

Those being looked after in healthcare settings are often in close proximity to the people caring for them, including nurses, doctors, carers, and their friends and relatives, increasing the risk of an infection being spread.

People working in healthcare settings must adhere strictly to procedures and practices that help to prevent infections from spreading and control and manage any that are detected to protect those they are caring for.

What is an Infection Prevention and Control Lead?

An Infection Prevention and Control Lead (IPC Lead) is a person who has completed a professional training course that allows them to take responsibility for preventing and controlling infection in a healthcare setting.

According to the Health and Social Care Act 2008, all Primary Care Providers must have an Infection Prevention and Control Lead employed.

Anyone within an organisation can be assigned as the IPC Lead, providing they have completed a relevant training course.

The IPC Lead takes responsibility for overseeing the organisation’s infection control policies and procedures but may not carry out all the work it involves themselves. Instead, there may be additional leads assigned to particular tasks – eg. a cleaning and decontamination lead.

All staff should also be held accountable for ensuring that they are following infection control procedures, such as hand hygiene.

What does an IPC Lead do?

An IPC Lead must implement and manage policies and procedures for both preventing an infection and bringing an infection under control quickly should an outbreak be detected.

Some key responsibilities of an IPC Lead include:

  • Carrying out risk assessments and regularly reviewing them.
  • Managing infection prevention policies including ensuring that:
  • Staff are using appropriate PPE.
  • Hand washing and hygiene is being adhered to.
  • Specimens are being handled safely.
  • Waste is being disposed of safely.
  • New residents or patients are being assessed for infection.
  • Training staff in infection control.

Whilst the IPC Lead plays an integral part in infection management, they also need the support and cooperation of everyone working in the organisation.

Therefore, an important part of the IPC Lead’s role is to train all staff in infection control and management. This may involve explaining the dangers of an outbreak to them, educating them in the symptoms of an infection that they should look out for and how to report them, and ensuring they know what precautions they should be taking to prevent the spread of infection.

  • Promoting the benefits of the flu vaccine to staff and patients.
  • Creating and managing an infection outbreak plan.
  • Taking swift and decisive action to bring an infection under control once an outbreak has been detected.
  • Conducting regular audits to ensure policies are being adhered to.
  • Producing an annual IPC review and statement.

The IPC annual statement summarises what actions have been taken that year and their outcome. For example, staff training, audits, and risk assessments. It will also record the details of any infection outbreaks that occurred and what actions were taken. The details will then be reviewed and the IPC Lead will update the organisation’s IPC policies and procedures accordingly for the following year.

Infection Prevention Lead training

All IPC Leads must complete an Infection Control and Management training course.

Here at CBAT, we provide a popular 2-day IPC training course that is used by some of the largest healthcare organisations nationwide.

Our short course covers everything you need to know to ensure that infection control and management is carried out responsibly and according to the latest regulations and legislation.

Key areas that our course covers include:

  • The role and responsibilities of the IPC Lead.
  • The latest best practice, regulations, and legislation for dealing with infection outbreaks.
  • Information about the types of infection you may face.
  • A guide to producing risk assessments, audits, and annual statements.
  • IPC control and prevention methods.

Virtual training in online classrooms

Our IPC training course is run online in a virtual classroom hosted on Zoom.

Learning online in a virtual classroom is convenient, cost-effective, and safe.

It is a particularly suitable way to learn for an infection prevention course as it means there is no need to travel or attend the course in person, minimising the risk of an infection being picked up or spread! Our virtual training courses have been very popular throughout the Covid-19 pandemic because they allow businesses to conveniently carry on training and developing their staff in a way that is safe without any compromise on the quality of the training.

Our virtual classrooms use advanced technology to ensure that the sessions are just as engaging and interactive as they would be in-person. It is even possible to perform group activities and on-screen assessments during the online lessons.

Interested in booking onto one of our courses?
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For more information about our infection control and management course, give our team a call on 01772 816 922, email admin@cba-training.co.uk, or book online to secure your place on our course.