Every schoolboy is told by his mum to wash his hands after going to the toilet. Unfortunately, it's a lesson that hospital doctors still need to learn.
At least 5000 patients die in UK hospitals every year because of infections caused by staff, costing the country around lb1 billion a year.
As a result, doctors now have their own 'mum' in the shape of the Hand Hygiene Liaison Group. This organisation advocates 'formal handwashing with soap and water' (as opposed to an informal wash?), and the use of an alcohol-glycerine hand rub before and after seeing a patient.
The NHS is keen to adopt handwashing as part of its national plan. Sewing mittens together can only be a step away (BMJ, 2001; 323: 411-2).