Day two of the Society of Hospital Linen Services and Laundry Managers (SHLSLM) forum at the Tankersley Manor, Barnsley saw Dr Katie Laird CBiol MSB FHEA,reader in microbiology, head of the Infectious Disease Research Group Faculty, deputy head of research students present a paper on ‘Current Research on the Infection Risks through Washing Uniforms at Home’. (See April LCN, ‘Uniform Concern’ – Katie Laird is on right of our main picture with research colleague Kate Riley).

Dr Laird's research is centred on the prevention of transmission of Healthcare Acquired Infections (HAIs) particularly on textiles. Current research projects include the survival of HAIs on nurse’s uniforms, C. difficile transmission on healthcare laundry and reducing the attachment of micro-organisms to textiles.

Sheets from a C. difficile ward where sheets had been infected with the bugs were collected and stored in bags in an outside storage area and after 24 hours infected area swatches were cut and then tested, and then the bag of laundry was washed and the fabric put through the ironer, too. Pre- and post-wash samples were analysed.

“We found 33 spores per 25cm on the bed sheets. So we know they do survive. “ Slides showed the spores have developed a ‘hook’ or ‘anchor’ to cling on making them harder to remove…What the tests do show is that it is best to get contaminated linen into the wash as quickly as possible and not store as this gives the spores the opportunity to develop their clinging propensities,” she said. The research is ongoing.

In other sessions, Ian Hargreaves, Laundry Solutions, chair and treasurer, SHLSLM, posed the question ‘Are RFID systems value for money?’ while ‘‘Linen Storage – What is the Hospital’s Responsibility?’ was presented by Lisa Grandcourt, 
head of facilities at Rotherham Doncaster and South Humber (RDaSH) NHS Trust. She addressed the importance of suitable linen storage at ward level and the challenges which linen service managers and support service staff are faced with on an operational level.  

• A full report of the conference will appear in the June issue of LCN.