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GP mythbuster 6: Guidance about privacy curtains

Categories:
  • Organisations we regulate,
  • GP and GP out-of-hours services

GP practices must maintain high cleanliness and hygiene standards.

This relates to our ‘safe’ key question. In particular S1.8: How are standards of cleanliness and hygiene maintained? Are there reliable systems in place to prevent and protect people from a healthcare-associated infection?

Privacy curtains in GP practices

Curtains around examination couches may be either:

  • disposable (paper) or
  • re-usable.

It is not mandatory to change or launder these curtains in general practice with any particular frequency.

Good practice guidelines

The Health and Social Care Act 2008: code of practice on the prevention and control of infections and related guidance sets out compliance with criterion 2: Provide and maintain a clean environment in managed premises that facilitates the prevention and control of infection including:

'The environmental cleaning and decontamination policy should specify how to clean all areas, fixtures and fittings.'

The Code of Practice references the national specifications for cleanliness in the NHS: guidance on setting and measuring performance outcomes in primary care and dental premises (National Patient Safety Agency)

'Curtains/blinds should be visibly clean with no blood or body substances, dust, dirt, debris, stains or spillages.'

The national specifications for cleanliness in the NHS; guidance on setting and measuring performance outcomes in primary care and dental premises sets out suggested cleaning frequencies as a guide. CQC expects that providers risk assess the required cleaning frequency and follow their own protocols.

Other curtains in a practice

Individual practices should assess the degree of risk attached to each item requiring cleaning. Also, maintain standards of cleanliness and hygiene that the public would expect of a health care premises. For:

  • curtains in rooms used for other purposes
  • window coverings such as blinds and curtains in treatment rooms

a programme to vacuum them regularly and clean or change them annually may be sufficient. They should be changed immediately if visibly soiled or stained.

When we inspect

During a CQC inspection, we are looking for:

  • curtains which appear visibly clean.
  • a system in place to ensure that curtains are cleaned or changed as appropriate
  • cleaning schedules and evidence of how practices ensure the condition of all furniture and equipment is maintained.
Last updated:
05 May 2021