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Infection prevention and control

Infection prevention and control is the clinical application of microbiology in practice. The RCN considers this area to be key to quality, patient safety and governance systems and an integral element of reducing antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

Infection or disease may be caused by bacteria, fungi, viruses or prions and can result in a wide variety of infections, for example, urinary tract, wound, respiratory, blood, bone and skin infections.

Not all infections are transmissible but some, such as C. difficile, influenza and norovirus have the potential to spread from one patient to another, causing outbreaks of infection with serious implications for health care organisations, facilities or nursing homes. Understanding how infections occur and how different microorganisms act and spread is crucial to their prevention in all settings, not just health and social care.

The RCN is actively involved in infection prevention issues and practice to support improvements in nursing practice and patient outcomes across the UK. Activity takes place on a national, regional and local level, ranging from representation at national forums, meetings, stakeholder events and site visits to members' workplaces.

Our work in the field of AMR is diverse and compliments our IPC activity. By focusing specifically on the nursing role in preventing the development or spread of infection, and our commitment as part of the inter-professional contribution to antimicrobial stewardship, the RCN is a key leader and influencer nationally and internationally in this area.

More information on specific AMR activity can be found in the current work section.

The RCN is also engaged in the following antimicrobial resistance work.

European Antibiotic Awareness Day (EAAD) 18th November

Each year, as part of World Antibiotic Awareness Week, the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) leads a European focus on antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

As nurses, we contribute in many ways to efforts to reduce the threat of AMR, including the prevention of infection through to administering and prescribing antibiotics, commissioning of services and educating the public, patients and their carer’s.  The RCN is very involved in AMR activity across the UK and internationally and we fully support the ‘OneHealth’ approach to managing and protecting antibiotics for both human and animals.  

For information on specific RCN work please go to current work and view our latest news.  You are also welcome to join our two IPC networks.

As a member of a newly formed AMR Alliance working jointly in human and animal health, we have endorsed a video developed by the Bella Moss Foundation explaining the importance of AMR. This video succinctly explains the importance of appropriate antibiotic use as part of a ‘OneHealth’ approach.

Beat the bugs

RCN Infection Prevention and Control Module

Find out more about the RCN's introductory module to infection prevention and control.

Related to infection prevention and control:

Professional lead for infection prevention and control:

Current work

Find out more about how the RCN are involved in infection prevention and control.

Standards for infusion therapy

Find out more about the updated guidance (Dec 2016)

Clinical supplies

Small Changes, Big Differences

We believe that the nursing team should be involvedĀ in the procurement of clinical supplies. Find out more about Small Changes, Big Differences.

Find out more

Travel health

The RCN provides advice and guidance for nurses on travel health.

Read more


Information on what sepsis is and how to recognise the signs of sepsis early and raise the alarm to enable prompt identification and treatment

Discover more