Doing battle with bacteria in Britain’s healthcare washrooms

Hospital environments’ washrooms can prove to be especially virulent breeding grounds for bacteria, which is why taking a stringent approach to product purchase and maintenance is key. Here, British manufacturer Armitage Shanks, outlines the steps healthcare institutions can take to battle bacteria and ward off the spread of infection in washrooms, as well as discussing why this is so important when it comes to effective water management.  

HAIs and healthcare washrooms

“The International Scientific Forum on Home Hygiene (IFH) confirms that areas featuring sanitaryware are bacterial and viral breeding grounds. Likewise, a  House of Commons report on ‘Reducing Healthcare Associated Infection (HAI) in Hospitals in England’,  found that annually 300,000 people contract a HAI  after a hospital visit, generating an additional care cost for the NHS of £1 billion. It also advises that appropriate sanitary precautions can actively prevent the spreading of dangerous germs.

“Another study by the International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health concluded that the role of waterborne transmission of some Pseudomonas in ICU units cannot be overlooked. The journal also suggests that both holistic and environmental factors are important in reducing transmission. The Journal of Hospital Infection backed these findings by suggesting that intrinsic, holistic, and engineering factors should be examined by healthcare institutions in order to reduce the risk of waterborne transmission.

“Considering the role of disposal of waste water, the installation of new tap outlets that are redesigned either to prevent contamination or enable decontamination, the cleaning of taps appropriately, and the frequency of water sampling to identify outbreaks were among the preventative steps suggested by the journal.

“It’s clear that the need to effectively manage water – and the products which handle how it is provided – couldn’t be more important in healthcare environments. Taking necessary precautions and making effective product choices helps to protect patient health and can make a measured difference in the number of cases of HAIs. While rare here in the UK, failure to do so can cause as negative an effect as patient fatalities.

Using products to battle bacteria

“There are many different types of fittings and ceramics utilized in hospitals, however, all products do tend to fall into one of three categories, comprising, non-patient areas, patient areas and augmented care patient areas.

“Hospitals have access to comprehensive guidelines to help identify the category each space falls into and as to how different products could help to battle bacteria. This guidance focus on the selecting products that aim to improve water hygiene, minimize the risk of harmful bacteria via intelligent design and simply the installation and commissioning of water supply systems.

“Effective infection control is an ongoing and ever-changing process of many components for any healthcare provider and smart product design forms only one element of this chain. It can however when paired with a stringent cleaning regime and regular sampling be especially effective, although this is of course dependent on the localized conditions faced by the institution.

Implementing foolproof cleaning regimes and removing parts for cleaning and maintenance

“As mentioned, stringent cleaning regimes also form an important part of any water management approach in a healthcare washroom. The UK healthcare sector is leading the way in increasing education around effectively instigating processes to ensure that maintenance work enhances the steps taken to battle bacteria, rather than impeding it.

“The need to remove parts for cleaning and maintenance is of paramount importance to those managing a hospital’s cleaning regime, so ensure the products selected for the washroom have this capability. It should be a prerogative of the hospital’s Water Safety Group to determine how often this dismantling needs to take place and to make sure that easy sterilization in whichever way suits the localized condition of the hospital best is also possible.

Latest product innovations from Armitage Shanks

“Armitage Shanks has a long history of providing innovation driven products to healthcare establishments. This year, we have launched two new ranges to provide optimum hygiene and infection control within hospitals; fittings collection Markwik 21+ and clinical ceramics range Contour 21+.

“Effectively managing all aspects of a washroom – from product selection, through to installation, use and maintenance – is of vital importance when it comes to taking steps to reduce the spread of bacteria in hospitals. By investigating the USPS of the products available and pairing these with the needs of their staff and patients, healthcare providers can make positive steps to helping to reduce the potential spread of HPIs.”

To find out more about Armitage Shanks and its new collections of healthcare products, Markwik 21+ and Contour 21+, please visit: