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Nigel's surgery 6: Guidance about privacy curtains
This mythbuster has been updated to clarify guidance about privacy curtains.
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
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 guidance for 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
Pragmatic guidance based on best practice is:
- In treatment rooms:
- disposable curtains: the date fitted is clearly recorded and they are replaced after six months.
- re-usable curtains: taken down and cleaned at 60 degrees at least every six months and immediately when soiled. (as suggested in NPSA guidance)
- All privacy curtains
- vacuumed weekly as part of the general cleaning schedule
- well maintained, free of tears and clear of the floor.
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:
- 25 January 2019