Surgical site infections (SSIs) present a considerable challenge for healthcare systems across the world, including in the UK, and have a substantial impact on patients and healthcare professionals. Despite clear evidence and guidelines on how to reduce the risk of these infections on a global, regional and national basis – and the fact that research shows up to 60% of SSIs are preventable – infection rates remain high. Progress has been made in recent years, yet more than 5% of patients undergoing a surgical procedure still develop an SSI, and each infection has been estimated to cost the NHS between £10,0003 and £100,000 per patient.
It is now time to act. Collectively we need to reduce the variation in practice across the UK, embed evidence-based examples of best practice, and work collaboratively with the NHS to help reduce the incidence of SSIs to improve patient outcomes.
Embedding this guidance and changes to practice cannot take place in silos. It will require action from the whole healthcare community: from policymakers, to trusts, to hospitals, healthcare professionals and medical Royal Colleges, right the way through to the patient themselves. This report, Time to Act: A State of the Nation report on Surgical Site Infections in the UK, will review the available evidence, examples of best practice and reflections from the front line, to make recommendations to each of these groups in order to drive significant improvement in reducing SSI rates in the UK.