STAFF at community hospitals across Gwent have been praised by health watchdogs for their approach to infection control, following an unannounced survey.

Twenty-six wards were monitored on one day last month at six community hospitals, including Ysbyty Aneurin Bevan in Ebbw Vale, County Hospital at Griffithstown, and Chepstow.

Teams from Aneurin Bevan Community Health Council (CHC), the independent patient's watchdog, turned up without warning to examine staff approaches to infection control based on observations of factors such as hand hygiene, the ward environment, waste disposal, linen, the care of equipment, and patient information.

The survey of infection prevention practice was carried out as part of a Wales-wide initiative called the National Bug Watch Scheme.

Infection control is an ongoing and high profile issue in all hospitals and in Wales, CHCs have a key role to play in raising issues of concern with health boards, through their rolling programmes of monitoring visits.

In Gwent, the CHC is delighted with how well the area's community hospitals performed in the survey. One - Ysbyty Aneurin Bevan - scored 100 per cent in all the areas surveyed, with the others scoring highly, with only minor issues of concern.

“Infection control is a vitally important issue for patients and the public, and so it is pleasing that our members found such positive results," said CHC chief officer Cathy O'Sullivan.

"It is a credit to those hospitals, the staff involved and Aneurin Bevan University Health Board for ensuring infection prevention practice is taken seriously and well implemented."

Community hospitals in Gwent, like their acute sector counterparts, came under the spotlight last year following a rise in cases of the superbug Clostridium Difficile.

An internal health board review of the reasons for the increase has been followed by an external review, the final report of which is expected shortly.

But measures taken to address that increase appear to be working. In the first four months of 2014 there were six cases of healthcare-associated C Difficile recorded in Gwent's community hospitals, less than for last December alone.