|N E W S F E E D S >>>|
Health & Welfare - Archive
|Caithness Health News Archive|
23 May 08
Whether you have worked in the NHS, been a patient or even volunteered we are keen to hear your stories. Garry Coutts, Chair of NHS Highland, explains: “60 years is an incredible milestone. In my four years as chair I’ve found the pace of change daunting and inspiring. In the constant drive to innovate and improve care for patients we might forget about the changes that have been made to the health of the population and to healthcare. I’d like us to take this opportunity to recognise the difference that has been made by staff, volunteers and patients who have contributed to the NHS.”
NHS Highland would love to hear from current and retired staff, patient sand volunteers so we can collect stories to use in displays and in an online record of the past 60 years. We would also be delighted to receive digital copies of photographs to help illustrate those stories. We’d need your permission to use them and ideally a personal narrative of what is in the photograph and what it means to you – perhaps because you were there or perhaps because it speaks of a relative’s service in the NHS.
If you would like your story to be told please contact the Communications Team via email firstname.lastname@example.org , in writing to Communications, NHS Highland, Assynt House, Beechwood Park, Inverness, IV2 3BW or by phone 01463 70.
The group is
an informal network of experienced breastfeeding mums who are happy to
support and encourage new mums in their efforts to breastfeed. This can
involve visiting in hospital or at home, or simply chatting over the phone
to give the real low-down on how to succeed through the early physical and
emotional challenges that may arise when breastfeeding. To help spread the
word the group has its own website -
Fiona Matthews, volunteer co-ordinator of Caithness Breast Friends, said, "Every breastfeeding mum remembers how challenging those first few days and weeks can be. There are not always breastfeeding relatives in the family who can help, so it’s great to have a number you can call to find a mum near you who has been through the same thing. With a new baby it can be difficult to get out of the house to attend the well-established NHS breastfeeding support groups in Wick and Thurso. Caithness Breast Friends aims to fill this gap so that mum-to-mum breastfeeding support is available from day one.
The health professionals are trained to give breastfeeding advice and our volunteer mums are there to complement this with solid moral support. No mother should never feel lonely breastfeeding in Caithness... there are loads of breastfeeding mums out there and we can help new mums to find them."
The Caithness initiative is a pilot project for a Highland-wide peer-support scheme run by NHS Highland. Karen Mackay, Infant Feeding Advisor for NHS Highland said: “It has been a pleasure working with the peer supporters and staff in this exciting new venture. The Caithness Breast Friends speak from personal experience and have back-up from NHS professionals so it’s the best of both worlds for mums. NHS Highland is committed to improving breastfeeding rates so more babies get the many health benefits of breast milk.”
Although almost 60% of babies in Caithness start out breastfed, by 8 weeks old only 33% of babies are still receiving breast milk.
The NHS breastfeeding support group meets in Wick every Wednesday at the Henderson Unit in Caithness General Hospital from 12-1pm. In Thurso, mums meet every Friday from 2-3pm at the Community Health Centre on Davidson’s Lane.
Experienced breastfeeding mums are invited to get involved by submitting their details to the "Breastfeeding Fone-A-Friend Directory" on www.caithnessbreastfriends.org.uk . The only qualifications required are that you live in Caithness, you have breastfed at least one baby and you are happy to provide moral support to new breastfeeding mums. The directory will be shared among health professionals to help pair up new mums with an experienced mum living nearby. For further details visit www.caithnessbreastfriends.org.uk or phone Fiona on 01847 821014.
11 February 08
Chief Operating Officer Elaine Mead said: “I am delighted that our internal figures show that at the end of December we were able to honour the 18 week waiting times guarantee for the patients of Highland. Every effort has been made to provide local sustainable solutions, due to the distances some patients already have to travel, with the vast majority of patients being able to see a local specialist within Highland.
We invested in additional outpatient clinics and all the support services required to enable these, and over the last three months of 2007 we saw more than 1200 extra patients. It has involved a lot of hard work from a large number of staff across the Highlands who have pulled together to improve services for patients and I can’t thank them enough for their hard work.
All staff are continuing to work hard to provide even shorter waits for patients and our focus in 2008 will be on bringing waiting times down even further. Our track record should give patients confidence that we will be able to overcome challenges and meet the new target by 2011.”
Staff throughout the Highlands have been working extra hard to ensure that the waiting times guarantee is met. Sheena Craig, General Manager for the North Highland Community Health Partnership explains: “All staff in the North have worked tremendously hard over the past year to achieve the success rate in meeting all of our waiting time targets. Since March 2007 more than 70 patients have had their cataract surgery in Caithness General Hospital rather than having to travel to Inverness and, across Highland, patients no longer have to go for an outpatient appointment after they have had cataract surgery, they can be seen by their High Street Optometrist.
My thanks go to all the staff who have worked so together so well for the benefit of our patients.”
Waiting Times figures are validated by the Information and Statistics Division. The validated figures are due for publication in late February at www.isdscotland.org
Macmillan Cancer Support is working together with NHS Highland and other organisations on a consultation exercise to find out what patients and carers thought worked well and what could be improved.
The research is underway and people can take part by phone or by meeting face to face between now and the end of February.
Macmillan Cancer Care Nurse Consultant Chrissie Lane said: "We want people to tell us what was important to them. We haven't narrowed down a list of topics. Everyone's opinion counts. We are constantly looking at improving the services in Highland and it's only natural that we would ask the people using them what they would like to happen. It won't take long to pass on your comments and it's all completely confidential. This is important work for the future and we really hope as many people as possible come forward with their suggestions."
The research has already been publicised through patient and public participation groups. People can take part by phone, meeting or by sending comments by letter or email.
To take part email email@example.com or telephone Catherine Smith, Project Coordinator on 01179 424442
Susan Birse, Acting Tobacco Coordinator for NHS Highland, explains: “We hope this policy will improve the health of staff, patients and visitors by protecting them from harmful exposure to environmental tobacco smoke. Smoking is one of the biggest causes of disease and early death in Scotland. Research has shown that 70% of smokers want to quit and we think it will be easier for them to succeed when they have fewer opportunities to light-up. However beating an addiction to tobacco isn’t easy and our smoke-free policy goes hand in hand with support for people to stop.”
It is recognized that a stay in hospital may be a particularly challenging time and therefore patients are sent details of how to contact their local smoking cessation service to get support and advice on how to remain smoke free during their treatment.
Intensive support will also be given to staff and patients who wish to make an attempt to quit.
In Scotland in 2004 an estimated 13,473 deaths in Scotland were attributed to smoking, which equated to 24% of all deaths.
3 December 07
The new materials form part of the PDS’s ‘Get it on time’ campaign, launched in 2006 to ensure that all people with Parkinson’s get their medication on time every time in hospital. The charity’s free ‘Get it on time’ washbag contains: a detailed guide including useful tips on how to prepare for a hospital stay, what to prepare and who to talk to, a medication record, a card to put by their bed and tear off reminder slips to alert staff to their Parkinson’s. In addition, the PDS has produced a leaflet: Helping You Complain – Scotland which gives people the information they need to report if something goes wrong (an incident) and to make a formal or informal complaint if they have problems with the timing of their Parkinson’s medication or any other medicines management difficulties during their stay.
Problems with the timing of Parkinson’s medication in hospital can have a significant impact on the experience of people in hospitals. In a survey of Parkinson’s Disease Nurse Specialists carried out in 2006*, nine out of ten nurses felt that patients with Parkinson’s can experience clinical problems or an extended hospital stay as a result of missed or late administration of their medication.
The ‘Get it on time’ campaign was launched to highlight the issue to staff working in hospitals across the UK and to encourage them to improve the processes they have in place for people with Parkinson’s.
Andrew Sim, Manager for the Parkinson’s Disease Society in Scotland said: “The ‘Get it on time’ campaign has already made a big difference to the lives of many people with Parkinson’s and their families in Scotland. We are sure that these materials will go even further, giving people the tools they need to explain to hospital staff why they need their medication at certain times. The campaign is not about undermining staff working in hospitals – it’s about helping staff understand the complexities of the condition and preventing problems arising. We would urge every person with Parkinson’s living in Scotland to order a free ‘Get it on time’ washbag.”
The ‘Get it on time’
washbag and English complaints leaflet are available to order free of charge
from Sharward Services Ltd, Westerfield Business Centre, Main Road,
Westerfield, Ipswich, Suffolk, IP6 9AB. Tel: 01473 212 115, Fax: 01473 212
28 October 07
1 October 07
Councillor Bill Fernie, Chairman of the Council's Education Culture and Sport Committee added: "We are delighted to see that fewer young people in Highland are smoking and will persist with our education initiatives to ensure this downward trend continues. Any move to prevent young people from starting in the first place can assist us greatly in improving the lives of those in Highland and future generations."
More than 1,500 retailers in Highland have been advised of the new legislation, which includes a requirement to clearly display a statutory notice (A3 size) stating: " It is illegal to sell tobacco products to anyone under the age of 18'. Failure to display this sign is an offence.
Powers to enforce legislation is the responsibility of Trading Standards Officers of The Highland Council. The maximum penalty to sell tobacco to a person under 18 is £2,500. Officers regularly visit retailers to provide assistance/advice on best practice to avoid underage sales, such as staff training.
Alistair Thomson, Head of Environmental Health and Trading Standards, said: "We welcome this new legislation and initially will be providing advice and guidance to retailers to ensure they know their responsibilities. We will be vigilant and will take action when appropriate."
Trading Standards Officers carry out covert test purchasing of age restricted products and can now use child volunteers to carry out the test purchasing of age restricted goods. Officers must follow a strict protocol, which requires the volunteers, who must be at least 18 months younger than the age restricted product in question, to always tell the truth to traders and never persuade or coerce them into making a sale. The owner or manager of a business, as well as an employee who sells an age restricted product, may be liable to prosecution for an illegal sale.
Earlier this year, there were four convictions in the Highlands following the sale of cigarettes in retail premises to a 14 year old volunteer, under supervision of Trading Standards Officers. The total fines were £500.
Retailers who would like advice on the prevention of the sale of age restricted products such as tobacco may contact Trading Standards for more information on 0845 600 4222 (local rate). Members of the public who suspect a retailer of selling age restricted products to children can report their concerns to Trading Standards or anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
NHS Highland also welcomed the new legislation.
Garry Coutts, Chairman, NHS Highland said: "Smoking has a devastating effect on young peoples lives and their futures. We know that many adults, hooked on smoking, deeply regret having started as teenagers. We certainly welcome this change in legislation as a further action to reduce smoking and minimise tobacco-related harm. Smoking still remains to be one of the biggest single causes of preventable disease and premature death."
Evidence that fewer young people are smoking was provided via results of a Scottish Schools Adolescent Lifestyle and Substance Use Survey (SALSUS). It showed that in Highland 5% of 13 year olds said that they were regular smokers compared with 12% of 15 year olds, a significant decrease from 2002 when it was reported that 9% of 13 year olds were regular smokers and 22% of 15 year olds.
It has also been reported that 83% of smokers regret having started smoking
and would not smoke if they had their time again.
The Scottish Government has launched the website www.tobaccoagechangescotland.co.uk which contains information for retailers, training guide, FAQ's, the statutory notice, etc, all of which can be downloaded from the website. Also contains helpful information and guidance for young people.
16 September 07
Community Health Partnerships (CHPs) bring together health staff and managers as well as council, patient, carer and community representatives to improve health and health care at local level. The Association of CHPs has been meeting at the MacDonald Aviemore Highland Resort over the past two days [13th and 14th September].
The Cabinet Secretary told delegates: “CHPs have a central, crucial and developing role as key drivers for change in health care and wellbeing. They are central to service redesign and workforce redevelopment and the key mechanism for tackling health inequalities and shifting the balance of care. They should be visible, local active leaders in improving the health of the population. CHPs must demonstrate high quality safe patient care and identify variations in practice. I believe CHPs are innovative and at the cutting edge of health and wellbeing.”
Under the theme of "well...well...well" the CHPs have been taking stock three years after they were set up.
Chair of the CHP Association Gill McVicar, who is also the General Manager of the Mid-Highland CHP, thanked the Cabinet Secretary for coming to Aviemore and welcomed her speech. She said: "We need to question what we do and how we do it. Above everything else we need to keep the patient at the centre. We need to make sure we are still challenging barriers and bringing them down. CHPs can do this because we have people from different backgrounds working together on shared aims. It means that increasingly patients get joined up care and that our health improvement work is more effective."
One of the most popular events at this year's conference has been a workshop on Programme Budgeting which was billed as being 'just for the anoraks'. After a speech on the subject the workshop was packed with people who wanted to know more about putting in place a system that would allow CHPs to more accurately monitor what they spend public money on and what sort of results they were getting for that investment.
Gill McVicar said: "Looking after the budget is important because there is a lot of work to do to improve the health of our people and our health care but there won't be a lot more money to do it. This means we need to be sure we're spending the money in the right ways - ways that make the biggest difference for patients."
10 September 07
66.2% of people in the NHS Highland area are overweight or obese. This can have serious consequences for their physical and mental health. Obesity is a recognised risk factor for conditions including type two diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, infertility, and some forms of cancer.
Raigmore Hospital’s Blue Dolphin Restaurant will have an Eat Better and Move More stand, run by NHS Highland’s Nutrition and Dietetics Department, with various themes being focussed on over the week. Topics such as how best to ensure you get your ‘five a day’, breaking diet myths, getting the balance of good health and even giving people the chance to try on ‘fat jackets’ to see just how heavy an extra few pounds are.
Local Health Improvement Network Co-ordinator Jane Groves said: “This week is about raising awareness of the health benefits associated with eating better and moving more but we know that it’s easier to say it than do it so we are also raising awareness of what’s out there that will help people.”
Among the schemes being highlighted are the Highlands and Islands Local Food Network’s Gates Open events which encourage local people to eat fresh local produce. Partnerships for Wellbeing’s Food First project which helps people on low incomes access healthy food, and Step it up Highland which trains volunteers to lead walking groups.
Jane Groves said: “These projects have the potential to help change the way people look at healthy living. It needn’t be about forcing your self to the gym or squeezing your body shape to match those of fashion models. We want people to feel good about simply taking a bit of exercise and making a meal from raw ingredients.”
This is the first of three weeks taking place before the end of the year to celebrate Highland as a healthy and vibrant place to live. For more information visit www.healthyhighland.com
4 September 07
More than 500 people die every year in Highland from disease caused by smoking. Although the region has one of the lowest rates of smoking in Scotland it still accounts for a fifth of all deaths.
Director of Public Health Dr Eric Baijal said: "Stopping smoking saves lives. This policy will ensure every time a smoker comes into hospital it is an opportunity for them to stop. Every time someone stops smoking they reduce their risk of suffering cancer, heart disease and lung disease."
The new policy will be implemented sensitively. Board Nursing Director Heidi May said: "We have looked at what happened in other areas and found that the vast majority of people obey the signs. Patients and visitors tell us they do not like people coming into our hospitals smelling of smoke so I'm confident this will be welcomed by the majority of people."
NHS Highland Board Chair Garry Coutts said: "We want to improve people's health and this policy will help them cut out smoking at least while they are with us. In surveys 70% of smokers say they want to quit and a stay in hospital is an opportunity for us to help them succeed."
The Smoking, Health and Social Care (Scotland) Act 2005 provides an exemption for inpatients in psychiatric hospitals.
NHS Highland's Tobacco Policy will provide exemptions for; vulnerable, anxious and distressed inpatients who may be offered an outdoor designated smoking area which meets the requirements of the legislation.
In Highland 23% of the adult (16+) population say they smoke.
It is estimated that 3, 393 people died from smoking-attributable causes in
Highland between 2000 and 2004. This is the equivalent of 20% of all deaths.
10 August 07
The research showed that 1 in 5 teens (21%) believe it's ok to tell a boyfriend or girlfriend what to do, with the figure rising to more than one in four (27%) in young men. A further 1 in 10 teens think saying sorry makes it ok after they've hurt or forced a partner to do something. A worrying statistic considering that on average, a woman will be assaulted by her partner or ex-partner 35 times before reporting it to the police.
Nicola Harwin, Chief Executive of Women's Aid commented: "This research is very worrying. As young people enter relationships for the first time they must be aware that allowing consistent power and control over a partner in any relationship is abusive and not acceptable. We need to work harder to reach young people and make them aware of the risks".
In light of the fact that one in four women will experience domestic abuse in their lifetime*, The Body Shop survey findings paint a worrying picture of youngsters attitudes towards domestic violence. Many do not seem to realise that domestic violence does not have to be physical or where emotional abuse can lead, suggesting that there is need for greater awareness at an early age to tackle this issue.
Zuni, 17, a survivor of domestic violence, said: "My ex-boyfriend was very controlling, he used to check my phone, tell me what to wear and who I couldn't be friends with. On one occasion he slapped me in front of his friends because I 'answered him back'. He made me feel really bad about myself and that I was always the one in the wrong. If I did what he said - things would be ok. I wish I'd known then that his behaviour was the problem - not mine. I think it's really important for young people to know what a healthy relationship really is and that they don't have to put up with being treated badly, like I did. I was lucky to leave but others might not be. Young people have to spot the signs early"
Nicola Harwin, Chief Executive of Women's Aid commented:
Toby Morgan, Values Manager for The Body Shop® UK & ROI commented: "The report highlights a number of grey areas in young people's attitudes to domestic violence, particularly emotional abuse and where the boundaries lie. There is a need for greater awareness and support of charities like Women's Aid so that help and information is available for young people. Throughout 2007, The Body Shop is raising much needed funds for Women's Aid by donating all profits from sales of our special edition pink Hi-Shine Lip Treatment to the charity".
The survey was commissioned by The Body Shop® to support their latest campaign to heighten awareness about the impact of domestic violence, as well as raise funds for national domestic violence charity, Women's Aid.
Women's Aid run a website for children and young people, http://www.thehideout.org.uk/ which aims to support and inform about domestic violence. Funds raised from The Body Shop Stop Violence in the Home campaign will help to develop this vital resource.
26 July 07
Members of the public are encouraged to submit questions to the Scottish Health Council. Please clearly mark any correspondence with 'NHS Highland Annual Review' and send this, no later than 13th August, to:
Mr Fabio Vilani, Regional Officer
The public are welcome to attend the Review, which is being held at the Centre for Health Sciences, Raigmore Hospital site, Inverness. Alternatively, there are three videoconference links available at the Fort William Health Centre, Camaghael, Fort William; the Boardroom, Aros, Blarbuie Road, Lochgilphead and the Seminar Room, Caithness General Hospital, Wick. There will also be a live web cast of the Review, for joining instructions please contact NHS Highland's Public Engagement Team on 01463 704862.
As many questions as possible will be taken during the Question and Answer session. However, those not reached will be recorded and answered on NHS Highland's website after the review.
18 July 07
Their duties include -
In recognition of new duties required by The Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003 which came in to effect on 5 October 2005, the Council approved a re-grading for 19 main grade MHO staff. This amounted to an extra £2,370 per year or £45 per week.
Their contracts explicitly state the following requirements:
MHOs who already hold promoted posts did not receive a pay increase.
The trade unions have made four requests, including one that all MHO qualified social workers should receive an extra £5,000 per year which they claim is in line with salaries paid by other Scottish local authorities.
This request was rejected by the Council's Appeals Committee, who recognised that 19 main grade MHO staff had been given a salary increase of £2,370 before ruling that the grading issues relating to duties of promoted members of staff would be addressed through the job evaluation scheme. They also agreed that immediate steps be taken relating to out of hours call outs; and that out of hours call level be investigated and any payment due be made to staff in accordance with current Council policy for Social Work staff.
Jon King, Head of Operations (Community Care), said that it was too early to report how many of the 41 MHOs would be taking indefinite industrial action. He will be closely monitoring the effect of this.
He said the Council would be working with NHS Highland, the Mental Welfare Commission and Northern Constabulary to meet its minimum legal requirements, although disruption to normal working could not be ruled out.
He said: "A system has been set up to co-ordinate calls and information relating to ongoing work and requests so that the Social Work Service can as far as possible plan and manage responses with resources which are available. Regular meetings have also been scheduled with NHS to monitor the impact of action for the NHS."
14 May 07
On Thursday 10th May the MHRA advised NHS Highland that following a meeting of the Inspectors Action Group on the 1st of May that the outcome of the re-inspection was that we could re-open the laboratory.
The work involved in meeting the MHRA's standards has included building improvements, new equipment, the production of local policies and procedures and the implementation of improved quality management systems.
During the suspension of the Blood Bank a small number of patients were transferred from Wick to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness who would otherwise have had surgery in Caithness.
North Highland Community Health Partnership General Manager Sheena Craig said: "People can now be reassured that Caithness General Hospital has high quality laboratories and systems in place for its blood bank service. We have installed new fridges and freezers and improved the fabric of the laboratory building by installing air conditioning, new floors, ceilings, windows and sinks in addition to developing our policies, procedures and quality systems."
"Recognition and credit must go to the staff who have carried out the work required to reopen the Blood Bank area of the laboratory. We have also had excellent support from colleagues across Highland and we must thank them for it."
"Maintaining a quality laboratory service will be an ongoing commitment for NHS Highland and the North Highland CHP. As part of this we intend to set up a CHP transfusion group which will include public representatives."
3 April 07
NHS Highland has agreed to co-fund an eighteen month pilot of the Emergency Medical Retrieval Service which will see experienced consultants fly to the patient to stabilise them ahead of transfer to a hospital which can best meet their needs. They will also be able to advise GPs and local hospital clinicians by phone.
Lead Clinician at the Dr Mackinnon memorial hospital in Broadford Dr Leo Murray said: “This is very good news. Critical illness and injury can happen anywhere. Getting very ill patients to the intensive care they require is a major challenge. This service will bring experienced help and care out of specialist centres to where we live.”
The 18 month trial to cover the West Coast of Scotland still requires agreement from the Scottish Ambulance Service and participating local health boards as well as approval from the Scottish Executive Health Department. The first twelve months will cost approximately £1.2 million. An independent evaluation will be undertaken two thirds of the way into this project to assess the benefits of the service.
NHS Highland Chief Executive Roger Gibbins said: “This will provide safe and secure access to highly experienced Accident and Emergency department specialists for people in remote communities who are seriously ill or seriously injured. It will also give support to our practictioners and Scottish Ambulance Service paramedics.”
The proposal for EMRS has been developed by senior doctors based at the Royal Alexandria Hospital in Paisley and the Southern General in Glasgow. It has already been trialled in Argyll and Clyde with some success and has the potential to be rolled out to cover all of rural Scotland.
28 March 07
Then you are invited to
attend an information evening with local diabetes professionals including -
Diabetes Specialist Nurse, Dietician, Diabetes Podiatrist and Pharmacist.
28 March 07
After careful deliberation it has been agreed that, thanks to clinical advances, changes in clinical practice and fewer patients needing an inpatient service, this is the way forward for Dermatology Services at Raigmore. Dr James Vestey, Consultant Dermatologist for NHS Highland, explains: “Fewer and fewer dermatology patients are requiring hospital admission. By moving this service from an inpatient service to day-case, we will be able to provide a different service to a higher number of patients whilst still providing excellent clinical care.”
“A lot of thought went into making this decision. We have looked into the number and type of patient who require treatment, and have also taken into account advances and changes in clinical practice.”
Linda Kirkland, General Manager for the Medical Directorate at Raigmore Hospital, added: “This new Day case Service, which will still be delivered from its current location on the 5th floor, will require no additional funding to incorporate the changes. Out Patients will remain in the current location in the Out Patients department”
“It is hoped that in the near future we will have a dedicated Dermatology Unit for both outpatients and day case, co-located in the same area.”
19 March 07
Prostate cancer mostly occurs when men are over 50, although the risks get higher as they get older.
Dr. Adrian Baker, GP at Nairn said: "Some of the signs to look out for include difficulty with urinating, discomfort or pain on passing urine, more frequent need to urinate (especially during the night), having a weak flow and/or mild impotence. Over the past five years GPs have seen an increase in men coming along to the surgery to have health checks, particularly blood pressure, cholesterol and prostate cancer. These are all very straightforward tests and can have a big impact if they are carried out early enough. Previously, men were generally reluctant to go and see their GP or Practice Nurse for various reasons. Fortunately attitudes are changing, perhaps because of more widespread health promotion publicity and wider awareness. A simple test by your GP can potentially save your life."
McIntosh, Cancer Network Manager at NHS Highland agreed:
Patients will certainly benefit from this pooling of expertise and sharing of best practice amongst health professionals."
minimum of five portions of fruit and vegetables a day can help prevent any
disease such as cancer occurring.
People in the Highlands were today (15 February 2007) being encouraged to keep germs and bugs at bay by washing their hands regularly, as new research reveals that over two-fifths of people from the area (41 per cent) admit that they could wash their hands more frequently than they actually do.
The research into hand washing habits, commissioned to support the Scottish Executive's nationwide hand hygiene campaign, also highlighted that although people in the Highlands are aware of the importance of washing hands after visiting the toilet, almost three quarters of people (73 per cent) rarely or never wash their hands after coughing or sneezing.
Drumnadrochit-based Angela Caruana and Wick-based Isobel Sutherland have been appointed as NHS co-ordinators for the national campaign, which aims to drive home the message that hand washing is one of the most important things you can do to help reduce the spread of infections.
Angela and Isobel will be monitoring across NHS Highland to ensure that staff are complying with national hygiene standards, and the local campaign will include awareness raising sessions on handwashing, distribution of leaflets demonstrating correct washing techniques and packs for nurseries and primary schools.
The most common way germs are spread are by people's hands which can lead to a range of illnesses including colds and tummy bugs, as well as more serious infections such as E.coli and flu and healthcare related infections such as MRSA. The new television campaign, 'germs - wash your hands of them' encourages people to regularly wash their hands to reduce avoidable illness.
Lack of facilities was cited as the main thing that might stop people from washing their hands after going to the toilet (34 per cent), followed by lack of time (5 per cent) and inconvenience (3 per cent). However, almost half of people (49%) from the area were in agreement that hand washing is something children should be taught from an early age - to help ensure good practice becomes a lifelong habit.
Although there is no recommended number of times to wash hands in a day, people are being advised to help keep themselves and others healthy by ensuring hands are washed:
Before eating or handling food
Angela Caruana, NHS Highland co-ordinator for the national hand hygiene campaign, said: "People lead busy lives and they may see washing their hands as trivial but it is very important in keeping control of infection. You may think you have washed your hands properly when there are still germs on them.
"Even people wearing gloves should wash their hands after wearing them as gloves often have holes or perforations."
Professor Mary Henry OBE, Nurse Consultant, Health Protection Scotland said: "Good hand hygiene is the easy and effective contribution every one of us can make to the fight against infection. We know it makes a difference and protects us, our patients and those around us from infection and this campaign will help to highlight this important message."
further information on effective hand washing log on to
19 January 07