Leading article: Now wash your hands

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The Independent Online

Something remarkable is taking place at the Luton and Dunstable hospital in Bedfordshire. The death rates of patients have dropped by 16 per cent in two years. The number of hospital-acquired infections is now the lowest in the region. Medical mistakes have been cut in half too.

How has this been achieved? Simple: the wards of the hospital have been plastered with instructions and notices for medical staff. At every turn doctors and nurses are reminded of basic responsibilities such as washing their hands, checking drugs before dispensing them and marking patients correctly for surgery. It is having an effect. Staff are improving their ways. It is an example that other hospitals would do very well to follow.

Never mind shiny new super computers, expensive "miracle" drugs and hi-tech equipment. The future of the NHS lies in the humble Post-It note. We should have known, really.