This Safer Practice Notice introduced the National Colour Coding Scheme for hospital cleaning materials and equipment. This ensured that these items are not used in multiple areas, therefore reducing the risk of cross-infection.
Most hospitals already had a colour coding scheme but there was no consistency across the NHS. It has been estimated that there were as many as 50 different schemes currently in use, mostly revolving around the same core colours but with different specific meanings. Sometimes, even hospitals within the same trust had different schemes in place.
This presented a potential risk when staff moved from organisation to organisation, or even in from site to site. A standardised code mitigates the risk of possible cross-contamination.
The National Reporting and Learning Service (NRLS) developed a National Colour Coding Scheme for cleaning materials, set out in this document. It was designed to standardise, and in some cases streamline, existing schemes. Adopting the code would improve the safety of hospital cleaning, ensure consistency and provide clarity for staff.
The NRLS recommended that all NHS organisations providing inpatient services in England and Wales should:
• Make a policy decision to adopt the National Colour Coding Scheme, where existing practice differed.
• Develop an action plan for introducing the National Colour Coding Scheme and raise awareness of any revised practice amongst healthcare staff.