With less than one month to go until the implementation date on 4 November, Decon Pete asks: are you National Standards of Cleanliness (NSC) ready?
In April 2021 NHS England published the National Standards of Cleanliness 2021.
This superseded the national specifications for cleanliness 2007.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.
As well as this, these new standards give healthcare organisations in England a framework for them to detail the required cleaning services. It also shows how ‘technical’ cleanliness and the efficacy of the cleaning process should be assessed.
Functional risk areas
Last month we looked at exactly what is required in order to meet the implementation deadline.
All of the information that NHS England has produced has been focused around the hospitals, including all of the functional risk (FR) areas.
They have also produced a version that covers GP surgeries. This seems to be closely matched to what we would see in dentistry.
When we look at the GP function risk areas, we can adapt these to dentistry more easily. This is due to the similar practice layouts.
With that said the FR area codes that will be used are likely to be:
- FR2 – Dental surgeries where invasive procedures take place and LDU’s
- Technical audit score: 95%
- Frequency: monthly
- FR4 – Waiting areas, patient toilets
- Technical audit score: 85%
- Frequency: every three months
- FR5 – Entrance, corridors, reception, staff toilets, staff room/ kitchen
- Technical audit score: 80%
- Frequency: every six months
- FR6 – Administration offices, store cupboards, education areas
- Technical audit score: 75%
- Frequency: annually.
The CQC have announced through their Mythbusters page: ‘The 2021 standards reference a star rating system. There are no expectations that we require you to display star ratings or logos in dental practices.’
According to the CQC, it is unlikely that they are going to be looking for star ratings within dental practices. Although, this doesn’t mean that they won’t.
Whether a practice decides to display their official star ratings will need to be decided on an individual basis.
A question that I receive all the time is: ‘Who will be checking up on our compliance to the standards?’
According to NHS England these standards are going to form part of a CQC inspection. However, it could also be reviewed by any NHS IPC team inspections.
What needs to be completed by 4 November?
By 4 November, every practice needs to have completed a technical audit on all of the FR areas within their practice.
From 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, the waiting area will have a star rating and so on…
Moving forward, practices will then carry out a technical audit based on the frequency’s of each FR area.
This will mean that 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 areas score changes then the related star rating will be changed in line with this.
There are lots of resource material, including a technical audit logbook, that can be viewed on my website.
Catch up on previous Decon Pete columns:
- Are you ready for the NSC 2021 implementation?
- The importance of a decontamination lead
- Setting up a squat practice – the finale
- The squat practice equipment you will need
- Things to consider when setting up a squat practice.
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