Principal investigator Dr. Sheldon Stone of the University College London Medical School said the national cleanyourhands campaign began in 187 National Health Service Trusts in January 2005 with instructions to provide bedside alcohol hand rub, posters encouraging healthcare workers to clean their hands and a range of patient-empowering materials.
It was one of a series of national initiatives to reduce levels of meticillin resistant/sensitiveStaphylococcus aureus bacteraemia and C. difficile infection in English and Welsh hospitals.
Stone and colleagues at the University College London Medical School and the Health Protection Agency evaluated the campaign's effectiveness.
The study published in the British Medical Journal found the combined procurement of soap and alcohol hand rub almost tripled during the four-year study period, while MRSA rates fell from 1.88 cases per 10,000 bed-days to 0.91, and C. difficile infection fell from 16.75 cases per 10,000 bed-days to 9.49.
Levels of MSSA bacteraemia did not decrease.
"The cleanyourhands campaign has been a real British success story," Stone said in a statement. "It has really changed the culture amongst NHS staff."