Researchers at the Health Protection Agency surveyed 52,443 hospital patients at 103 hospitals and found 1-in-16 had an infection associated with their healthcare, 1-in-20 age 15 and younger got an infection, and 1-in-5 very sick children got an infection in the hospital, the Daily Telegraph reported.
Most of the hospital-acquired infections were pneumonia, urinary tract infections and surgical site infections, the report said.
Government officials said although the number of infections has been dropping -- due to campaigns to encourage staff and visitors to wash their hands -- many infections are becoming resistant to antibiotics.
The study made a series of recommendations to reduce hospital-acquired infections, including that hospitals ensure all staff who insert catheters and tubes into patients are properly trained, and that guidelines should be developed for the use of common antibiotics.
Lead author Dr. Susan Hopkins, an epidemiologist at the Health Protection Agency, said there needed to be a shift in the attitude of healthcare staff to prevent infections.
"It is about performing the procedure right every time, no matter how many patients you are looking after," Hopkins told the Telegraph. "We need to make sure people are competent and trained in inserting devices and we need to look at our surveillance of infections."