The Department of Health has recently put two documents out to consultation relating to infection control.

The first is the Code of Practice for Health and adult social care health on the prevention and control of infections and related guidance. In October 2010 providers of adult social care and independent healthcare will be registered by the Care Quality Commission against a set of registration requirements which include requirements relating to cleanliness and infection control. This code has been drafted to set out the criteria which the Care Quality Commission will use to assess compliance with those requirements and how providers can meet those requirements.

The code collates current good practice into a single document and does not introduce any new requirements. There is however, a warning that the terminology may have changed slightly. An example of this is that under the new code, there will need to be a designated lead within the organisation on infection control and surveillance of infection control records. In the past the registered manager of a care home was expected to have knowledge and keep appropriate records relating to infection control. In many cases this will amount to the same thing.

The second document that the Department of Health would like comments on is the Prevention and control of infection in care homes. This document updates the guidelines on the control of infection in nursing homes and residential homes that was published by the Department of Health in 2006. It sets out the responsibilities of key personnel in respect of infection control and provides information for providers to minimise the risk of infection to residents and staff. The purpose is to give advice to help compliance with the criteria in the code of practice. The two documents should be read together. This is a practical document with very specific advice for providers, including issues such as decontamination, dealing with spillages and colour coding of healthcare waste.

The draft code provides some clarity relating to registration for providers and how to achieve this and the draft guidance gives practical advice relating to the infection control issue.

However, providers of care should seize this chance to comment before the code and the guidance takes effect.

The consultation ends on 6 November 2009. The draft documents can be accessed here.