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Hand sanitising

Current work

More information on the RCN's involvement with infection prevention and control and antimicrobial resistance

Aseptic technique

Following member feedback, the RCN is undertaking a programme of work on the education and the application of aseptic technique in practice across all care settings.

This work has to date:

  • Built on RCN members feedback and requests to explore aseptic technique from a holistic perspective
  • Worked with nurses to explore experiences of asepsis and aseptic technique in practice
  • Published a report ‘Understanding Aseptic Technique’
  • Used a Delphi methodology to explore definitions and language associated with asepsis and aseptic technique to begin the process of agreeing a common vocabulary to support nursing practice
  • Commissioned in-depth interviews to explore results of the delphi study and inform the next phase of work to support education and nursing practice on aseptic technique
  • Explored how procurement decisions impact on aseptic technique in practice
  • Linked current RCN activity on glove use to the aseptic technique programme.


PPE Innovation (England) 

A series of events were planned across England for front-line health and care staff to share their views and experience during the pandemic to inform the development of the next generation of PPE. These have been postponed to the summer. More information will follow.

Waste containers

The RCN is actively engaged in supporting procurement tenders in England by promoting engagement and feedback on a wide range of consumables used by nurses across the NHS.

Current requests for nursing input are listed below:

March 2022

Tower 3 are engaging with clinicians, waste managers, theatre and other relevant NHS staff about Clinical Waste Containers. This includes sharps bins, polypropylene and cardboard clinical waste bins and boxes and sharps pads and theatre sharps boxes.

The link below is to some of our key lines of enquiry which can be completed online, but we would be grateful for any feedback on current products or requirements for these products via e mail or a conversation. We are particularly interested in your views about sustainability and the requirement and level of associated support services (such as training provision) that you require with the products.

Smartsheet. Clinical and Sharps Waste Management

We would also like to share our draft specification for these products with NHS clinical colleagues for feedback, if you would be able to help with this could you let us know.

IPC network

IPC network

More information on the RCN's infection prevention and control network and how you can get involved.
Facebook group

RCN Children and Young People IPC Network

This Network exists to support nursing staff who work with Children and Young people who have responsibilities for or an interest in Infection Prevention and Control. 

A UK national blood and body fluid exposure annual survey identifying contact details of occupational health managers

The RCN has recommended and is strongly supporting the establishment of an annual UK national survey of blood & body fluid exposures (BBFE) in healthcare personnel (HCP).

The 2021 RCN Report on BBFE exposures revealed an alarmingly high incidence of sharps injuries and mucocutaneous exposures, however UK has no national BBFE database from which to draw conclusions re trends and Covid impact.  A UK national blood and body fluid exposure annual survey identifying contact details of occupational health managers

RCN, NHS England and major Occupational Health associations agree that a publicly available, BBFE annual survey is needed for national and healthcare facility BBFE benchmarking.

Dr Kevin Hambridge (Plymouth Univ.) and Terry Grimmond, two international BBFE researchers, are co-leading the BBFE Working Group, with the 2019-2021 BBFE survey planned for mid-2022.

The proposal:

  • compile contact details of occupational health managers (OHM) at all UK health facilities
  • forward 1-page, 12 question, Survey Monkey-based questionnaire directly to all OHM
  • strictly anonymous survey – no facility name will be used or mentioned in any manner
  • survey results to be published in a peer-reviewed open-access journal annually.

We urge all of our members to assist the BBFE WG compile a national list of OHM contact details by emailing Terry Grimmond ( with the name, title, email address and facility name of your OHM – or kindly forward this request to your OHM.

These details will not be shared with anyone – they are strictly for the BBFE survey.

Dear OHM, the BBFE WG apologises if you receive this request more than once – no stone was left unturned in our efforts to contact OHM’s in all UK healthcare facilities.

For further information please contact Dr Hambridge ( or Terry Grimmond (

Leadership and professional advice

The RCN, through the professional lead for Infection Prevention and Control (IPC), provides visible and clinical leadership in support of Infection Prevention and Control and antimicrobial resistance (AMR). In addition to our strategic activity, we work to ensure that any resources we develop add value to our members and stakeholders, do not duplicate existing available information, complement the work of others and are quality assured.

The RCN hosts a generic IPC Network which supports the delivery of RCN focused projects or resources involving the prevention of infection. A new IPC network to support nurses and others working with Children and Young people (CYP) was launched in 2017. Additionally, the RCN is actively involved in strategic work programmes and stakeholder or expert reference group meetings to influence and develop policy on Healthcare Associated Infections, and AMR for all countries of the UK. This work closely aligns with RCN activity supporting patient safety, quality improvement and sepsis recognition and management.

Specific examples of current, strategic work we are undertaking or supporting that impacts on the prevention of infection includes:

• Developing a new professional development course to support education in infection prevention and control (commences November 2018)

• Supporting the Care Quality Commission (England) in the development of its new regulatory framework and inspection programme through its co-production programme

• NHS Improvement Prevention of Healthcare Associated Gram-Negative Blood Stream Infections programme

• Influencing and supporting the implementation of the Future Operating Model (FOM) in England and procurement of products and consumables – see Small Changes Big Differences

• Membership of the European Network to Promote Infection Prevention for Patient Safety (EUNETIPS)

• High Consequence Infectious Disease planning.

Antimicrobial resistance

Our work supporting efforts to reduce the risk of AMR is diverse and more detail can be found on our Antimicrobial resistance page.

  • Membership of the One Health Stakeholder Group
  • Advising the European Public Health Alliance (EPHA) on the development and implementation of their AMR strategy
  • Membership of the English surveillance programme for antimicrobial utilisation and resistance (ESPAUR) group
  • Activities supporting European Antibiotic Awareness day and World Antibiotic Awareness Week
  • Development and implementation of new rapid diagnostics
  • Development of a new BSI standard for antimicrobial impregnated surfaces.



Antimicrobial stewardship

Antimicrobial resistance is recognised as a global health and economic threat. Nursing has a key role in supporting efforts to reduce this threat as a central part of the healthcare and public health workforce. Our RCN focus is currently on supporting the role of nursing and midwifery through antimicrobial stewardship (AMS), working with the University of Cardiff and Universities delivering nursing education to explore curricula and the inclusion of AMS within this.


In 2013 the RCN joined OneTogether, a global movement aimed at improving patient safety by reduce preventable health care associated infections (HCAIs).

OneTogether is a collaboration of professional associations and industry partners with the joint aim of improving patient outcomes.

Despite continued focus on infection prevention, HCAIs remain an ongoing threat to patient safety and a significant drain on health service budgets. By facilitating joint working and connecting resources and expertise, OneTogether aims to empower the health care community to deliver a sustainable change in HCAI incidence.

Read about OneTogether


Page last updated - 12/04/2022