Decon Pete – are you ready for the NSC 2021 implementation?

Decon Pete NSC

Are you NSC ready? This month, Decon Pete explains everything you need to know about the upcoming implementation date for all healthcare settings, including what you must complete.

With only two months to go until the implementation date of Friday 4 November, are you National Standards of Cleanliness (NSC) ready?

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

The publication applies to all healthcare settings including primary care dental. In addition, it is designed to provide a common understanding of what it means to be a clean healthcare setting.

These new standards give healthcare organisations in England a framework for them to detail the required cleaning services. It also explains how ‘technical’ cleanliness and the efficacy of the cleaning process should be assessed.

What is required? 

By the 4 November 2022, all practices should have displayed a star rating. This visually shows the cleanliness of the overall practice as a result.

In order to achieve the required star rating, there are also several tasks that need to be completed first:

Cleaning specification

This specification should include:

  • 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) should be cleaned, broken down by FR category.

Cleaning responsibilities

  • Outline who will be responsible for each element in each of your practices areas.

Commitment to Cleanliness Charter

  • The Commitment to Cleanliness Charter sets out an organisation’s commitment to achieve a consistently high standard of cleanliness in all its healthcare facilities. This uses the functional risk category, cleaning frequencies and cleaning responsibilities for each functional area.
  • Make sure you add your practice name and logo to the charter
  • Make sure that the principal and practice manager have signed the charter.

Technical audit

  • Transfer the areas and elements from the cleaning specifications and the responsibilities onto the technical audit
  • Also, when carrying out your technical audit make sure you enter a one (pass) or a zero (fail).

Star rating

  • Once you have completed and carried out your first full technical audit, the overall percentage score needs to cross referenced with the star rating calculation appendices
  • Make sure that you place the expiry date which will be when the next audit is required
  • Make sure you also place the area that the star rating is applicable for, ie surgeries.

Understanding the FR category

The NSC 2021 outlines six FR (Functional Risk) areas that need to be adopted by facilities throughout England.

When it comes to dentistry, not all six areas will be adopted. This is due to the size and risks associated with each one.

Dental settings will most likely adopt the following three areas:

  • FR2 – dental surgeries where invasive procedures take place and LDUs. Technical audit frequency: monthly
  • FR4 – waiting areas, reception, public corridors, toilets, entrance. Technical audit frequency: every three months
  • FR6 – administration offices, store cupboards, education areas. Technical audit frequency: annually.

What needs to be completed by 4 November 2022?

By the 4 November, every practice needs to have completed at least one full practice technical audit.

Following this audit, each practice can then start to display the relevant star rating associated with the FR area. For example, dental surgeries will have a star rating, waiting areas will have a star rating, and so on…

Moving forward, practices will then carry out a technical audit based on the frequency required of each FR area.

Therefore, every month the FR2 (surgeries) will be audited, every three months the FR4 (waiting area, reception, etc) will be audited, and once per year all FR areas will be audited.

If the area’s score changes, the related star rating will be changed accordingly.

There are lots of resource material, including a technical audit logbook, that can be viewed on my website. For more information, visit

Or you can email me anytime for any help and assistance at [email protected].

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