Decon Pete – National Standards of Cleanliness, what’s required?

decon peteDecon Pete gives a further update on the National Standards of Cleanliness document and exactly what practices will need to do.

Last month we discussed the new National Standards of Cleanliness document. This will come into effect in April 2022.

This month I would like to discuss what it requires practices to do and some updates.

National Standards of Cleanliness 2021

In April 2021 NHS England published the National Standards of Cleanliness 2021. This supersedes the National Specifications for Cleanliness 2007.

The publication applies to all healthcare settings including Primary Care dental. It is designed to provide a common understanding of what it means to be a clean healthcare setting.

Several discussions have been had with NHS England and the key infrastructure for the NHS Deep Clean Advisory service to obtain some clarity over the actual impact on England NHS dentistry.

The following deadlines are now in place and confirmed.

  • Dental practices need to be fully compliant with the star ratings display by November 2022
  • The external audit is considered best practice and is not required for full compliance of the star ratings
  • Templates need to be in place so that a first round of audits can be carried out to achieve the star rating deadline
  • The efficacy audit then needs completing within 12 months of the November date.

What does this mean to the practice?

Dental practices need to have the scores in place by April.

In order to do this, the following documents will need completing: cleaning specification, technical audit and efficacy audit.

When putting together the cleaning specification you will need to identify your functional risk areas. These range from FR1-FR6.

Dentistry will, in most occasions, use FR2, FR3, FR4 and FR6. With each of the FR groups you need to list the following:

  • Cleaning elements – a list of individual items/categories of items that require cleaning
  • Performance parameters – the expected standard of each item (element) after cleaning
  • Cleaning frequencies – how often each item (element) needs cleaning, broken down by FR category.

Some of this information will be transferred directly from your existing Environmental Cleaning Policy.

The technical audit is a transference of the cleaning specifications information. You can score the cleanliness and effectiveness of the cleaning process.

You will monitor each item and grade it either a (0) fail or (1) pass. This information then transfers into an overall score and the practice carries it out on a regular basis.

Practices must carry out the efficacy audit on an annual basis. It is a management tool to ensure that you are meeting correct IPC and safety standards.

Like the technical audit, score each area and give it a percentage rating.

Working towards star ratings

Dental practices will then need to work towards achieving their star ratings.

Practices can achieve star ratings in two ways. Firstly once you carry out the technical and efficacy audit the practice will, with the use of the scores and percentages, give itself an internal star rating.

Secondly practices will then need to confirm this with an independent assessor through the external audit.

Once you carry out the external audit and confirm the scores then you will receive a final star rating. Practices can then display their poster for patients to see.

Star ratings have been used in a wide variety of industries and will be easily recognised by patients.

Commitment to Cleanliness Charter

Following the first round of audits, including the external audit, practices will then complete the Commitment to Cleanliness Charter and display this for patients to see.

The charters are a way of practices showing patients that they are serious about providing a safe clean environment by referencing the new star rating system, which reflects the cleanliness of the whole area regardless of who is responsible for cleaning it.

If you need any help or assistance with any of the documents then please get in touch.

You can also contact Tutum Health who are able to support you with external audits. They can assist you in ensuring full compliance.

They have put together several different options to support you and further details can be found at or

If anyone requires any assistance with the templates or help understanding the requirements, then please get in touch at [email protected] or visit You will also find example templates, designed for dentistry, that you can download.

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Catch the previous Decon Pete columns:

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