Western Sussex Hospitals have joined up with Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals to form a new NHS Foundation Trust for our area: University Hospitals Sussex.

You can keep using this website for information about St Richard’s, Worthing and Southlands hospitals but for our other sites and to find out more about the new trust please visit www.uhsussex.nhs.uk.

Why is handwashing so important?

Handwashing is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of many infections.


This is why we ask patients to:

  • Clean their hands before meals and after using the toilet or commode
  • Encourage visitors to clean their hands when they enter and leave the ward
  • Ask staff if they have cleaned their hands before examining them
  • Report any unclean toilets or bathroom facilities

Frequently asked questions

Here are the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about hand hygiene

Q. Why is hand hygiene important?

A: Hospital patients are most at risk of developing infections, particularly when they have a surgical wound or are receiving medicines or fluids through a tube into their body.

Having clean hands is the most effective way of ensuring we do not pass on infections that could enter the patient’s body through a wound or tube entry point.

We insist all staff; visitors and patients observe the highest standards of hand hygiene to minimise this risk.

Q. What is the best way to clean your hands?

A. Either:

  • By washing with soap and warm water, or
  • By using alcohol rub or gel. Dispensers can be found at the entrances to all wards, departments and at the bedside.

Q. When should you clean your hands?

A. Patients should clean their hands:

  • before a meal,
  • when arriving and leaving the hospital and ward,
  • after using the toilet, and
  • before touching food

Staff should clean their hands:

  • each time they have direct contact with a patient,
  • before serving food,
  • after helping patients to use the toilet or commode, and
  • after using the bathroom themselves

Q. Can I ask staff about handwashing?

A. If you think a member of staff may have forgotten to clean their hands before touching you or something used in your care, please remind them.

Staff will not mind being reminded of the importance of hand washing.

If you feel uncomfortable asking a member of staff, please discuss your concerns with the nurse caring for you so the matter can be followed up.

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