Is that a virus waiting for you in the waiting room?

Bored waiting
Yep, it’s a virus – and it’s got your name on it

Fancy place the local Doc has got.

Done up all nice in this old Edwardian house.

Six of them in partnership, some on-the-ball practice managers to run it –  even a dispensary, right there on the prem.

Impressive.

Too bad about the waiting rooms though.

Germs in waiting

Ten minutes in the one, and everybody gets norovirus. Walk into the other, and the sneeze hits in seconds.

Not really as bad as that, of course.

But that’s how it seems.

And if you think about it, why are you surprised?

A bunch of people all sitting, waiting – not all with aches and pains.

There’s the splutters and tummy cramps too.

Ten minutes, twenty. How long does it take?

Household hygiene, not good enough

Staring at each other in rows round the walls of this one-time ex-dining room. Carpet on the floor, drapes at the windows, radiator under the window – and that’s your lot.

Easy once-over with the Dyson when they close at 5.00. Wap, wap, with the dustcloth, job done. Exactly like public offices and waiting rooms all up and down the country.

Except there’s still stuff floating in the air. Swirling round when people come in. Settling and swirling, coming down on that old fireplace where they keep the NHS brochures. Attaching to the walls.

A grab-bag of common-or-garden cooking viruses, the usual suspects.

Rhinovirus, because it’s that time of the year. Norovirus, because the posh people in this practice do cruise ships and this year it’s Cancun with those exotic cantinas and the hot enchiladas.

You’re going to get it

A walk-in germ-factory, in other words. And a shock for the Docs that people think so.

But totally inevitable.

And totally fixable.

Because it’s the simplest thing in the world to wheel in a Hypersteriliser after the Dyson. (Tweet this)

Hit the button, shut the door, and 40 minutes later the place is sterile.

Both waiting rooms done before going home for tea.

No viruses, no bacteria – a germ threshold at total zero.

Stop a few coughs and tummy runs, that. Save the Docs time and ease up on dispensary staff too. What’s not to like?

Easy-peasy

All for around a tenner a pop – and the patients wind up among the healthiest in the country.

Worth a bob or two in goodwill, hey?

Can we book you in for next week?

If nobody’s smoking, why are you coughing?

Cigarette woman
Passive germs are just as deadly as passive smoke

Cough, splutter, choke.

No doubt about it. You’ve got someone’s second-hand germs.

Well nobody smokes at work, right?

And nobody smokes at home. You haven’t been near a pub or bar – and nobody you know even thinks about it.

Non-smoker’s cough

So how else have you got this smoker’s-type cough that makes you feel so lousy?

Wakey, wakey.

It’s not just cigarette smoke that hangs in the air. And it’s not just stale tobacco that pongs up the place.

Germs can’t read that “No Smoking” sign – but if they could, they’d be laughing.

Because there’s billions and billions of germs all around us, all the time. Oh yes, there are, don’t kid yourself.

But we don’t think of them, do we? Out of sight, out of mind.

Invisible in the air

You can’t see cigarette smoke either, after the first few seconds. And yes, it’s deadly too – but those other germs you can’t see can bring on sickness and misery ten times worse.

Ten times worse than lung cancer?

Take your pick of cholera, typhoid, Ebola, malaria, yellow fever, or whatever.

Or just plain norovirus if you’re lucky – Delhi belly or equivalent. A few days and you’re over it.

But why are you still taking chances?

So far, you’ve escaped the ills of smoking – the cancer, the asthma, the COPD.

No smoke around you – and people respect the law.

But where’s the sign that says “No Germs”? “No Viruses”. “No Bacteria.” “Pathogens will be prosecuted?”

No wonder people go off sick – none of us are doing anything about it.

It is an offence to spread germs in these premises

We’ve gone all legal and outlawed smoke from enclosed spaces, but we’re still doing nothing about the rest.

Look no further than your own office space. How many of you are working in there -20? 30?

And how’s your office hygiene coping with the germs they bring in every day – on their clothes, on their shoes – carried in with their tummies, or breathed out from puffing up the stairs?

No, that nightly go-round with the vacuum cleaner, emptying the waste bins and quick wipe-down of all the desks isn’t going to crack it. In fact germs thrive on moist surfaces, so they quite possibly multiply.

Hazardous? You bet.

Try Googling it.

Average Desk Harbors 400 Times More Bacteria Than Average Toilet Seat.

Office workers are exposed to more germs from their phones and keyboards than toilet seats, scientists reveal.

Might as well call in sick before you start – you’re going to get it, whether you like it or not.

Well no, because our immune systems are accustomed to this kind of abuse. It’s only when we’re down that things happen to us. We over-work, over-eat,  have an accident, or get depressed.

The second the body goes out of balance, those germs are in there like a flash.

But of course, that’s if your office isn’t booby-trapped already. Sick building syndrome, legionnaire’s disease – they’re both demonstrations of environmental germs at work.

Boom! That’s you gone.

But only if you let it.

Seeing the light

Companies are starting to wise up to lifting hygiene levels at work. And, gasp, even some government departments.

The place gets cleaned every night – and then blitzed with a Hypersteriliser. One hour of exposure to hydrogen peroxide and the germ threshold drops to zero. (Tweet this)

There you go, germs gone, nary an infection anywhere.

No viruses or bacteria of any kind until the staff rock up tomorrow morning. Then they’re back in force, of course – on their clothes, on their shoes, you get the picture.

But at least the desks are sterile and safe to use. The place is neutral. Nothing lingers in the air or the heating system. The coffee machine and biscuit cupboard are free of all hazards – unless you scald yourself on a latte.

So if you’re going to catch a bug, at least it won’t be off your desk or the photocopier. Except Jones from Accounts had better watch herself, coughing all over everyone like that.

Needs a few days off, poor dear. Passive germs are active in the Underground.

The difference between clean and safe

Mum and baby hands
Most of the time, clean just isn’t enough

Chores done. Spic and span.

And the floor looks so good you could eat your breakfast off it.

Really?

Prepared to risk a tummy ache for it?

Beyond appearances

For all you know, that floor could be covered in germs. And how would you know? They’re so small you need a microscope to see them.

OK, soap and water does get rid of a lot of stuff . Dirt certainly, you can see that.

And yes, probably a whole stack of germs.

By making that floor – or anything else – clean, you have basically “sanitised” it.

If before you started there were a million germs to a square inch – harmful pathogens, viruses or bacteria – you have now pulled them down to 100,000, a reduction of 90%.

Assuming of course, that you have cleaned thoroughly – not just slopped with a mop and stopped for a coffee.

Personal hygiene

It’s the same with your hands.

A proper clean with soap and water for at least thirty seconds – or with alcohol gel if there’s no facilities – will get rid of 90% of germs.

Medics and science boffins call this a Sterility Assurance Level of Log 1. If you scrub for five minutes or so, like operating staff do, you get rid of 99% – a Sterility Assurance Level of Log 2.

But there’s a catch. All bacteria have the power to divide and multiply. One cell becomes two, two become four, four become sixteen – etcetera.

And since 10% of them are left, they’ll be at it immediately.

Warm, moist conditions accelerate this. So if whatever you’ve just cleaned isn’t dry, those germs will be racing to replace themselves. That 10% of germs can double in 20 minutes. In less than two hours, they could be back to full strength.

And germs like flu viruses can survive on your skin for 24 hours. Other bacteria can survive for weeks. (Tweet this)

Makes you think twice about the towel you use, doesn’t it? If it’s still damp – and it’s likely to be – the next person who comes along is going to pick up whatever you left. That’s why air blade dryers are so much safer – your hands get dry without leaving anything behind.

Thank goodness.

Because out of all the millions and millions of bacteria that might be around (there always are), it only takes 10 cells of something nasty like e.coli to make you very sick indeed.

This means war

So how about if you deliberately set out to kill germs? Use a disinfectant like Domestos or Dettol?

Depending on the strength and preparation of the stuff you’re using, you’ll reduce germ levels – the number of colony forming units of viruses or bacteria – by anything from 99.9% to 99.999%. That’s a Sterility Assurance Level from Log 3 to Log 5. (Just count the number of 9s).

Pretty good, but not really serious if infection is a problem – like when everyone’s come down with norovirus, or flu is spreading like wildfire.

Going the whole hog is to sterilise everything. To destroy all viruses and bacteria completely. Reduce those million germs you started with down to nothing – all non-pathogenic and pathogenic spores, fungi and viruses.

The science boys shake their heads at that, since it’s not always provable. The best they’re prepared to accept is reducing the million down to one, or 99.9999%. This puts us at a Sterility Assurance Level of Log 6.

Making safe

Safe enough?

For sure. And it’s achievable in as little as twenty minutes by misting up the room with ionised hydrogen peroxide.

Ionising makes hydrogen peroxide particles become supercharged – acting far more powerfully than they would otherwise. They kill on contact without needing to saturate the atmosphere. The dry mist reaches everywhere, sterilising the air as well as all surfaces.

Well you don’t get flu by sniffing the table, do you?

And ionised hydrogen peroxide can be used pretty well anywhere in an enclosed space. You just roll in the electronic robot unit – it’s about the size of a small wheelie-bin – close all the doors and windows, hit the button and leave.

Result, a sterilised room with a germ threshold of zero. Your kid’s classroom, your office, your hotel room – anywhere you might be a risk.

Washed your hands?

You’re off to a good start.

Lonely and scared? Never with ambulance crews

Woman crying
Relax, it’s going to be alright – the ambulance crew are here

When did our world become so cruel?

People don’t care. They’re rude and greedy. Shove you aside to grab for themselves.

A shocking example, set from Westminster on down. You can’t blame the yobs when the toffs are doing it too.

Nobody wants to know any more. Love is dead.

Until you call an ambulance

You might have to wait a while though, these NHS ambulance guys are busy.

So busy, those parliamentary do-gooders are falling over themselves to complain about how long it takes.

They’ve never had to queue, nine deep, to deliver an code-blue emergency to an over-worked A&E. Never faced grid-locked traffic, or Lord Muck in the Roller, refusing to move over for lights and siren.

Or been so hard-pressed and over-stretched that London Ambulance have had to fly in a relief squad of 175 paramedics from Oz.

Yeah, they’ll get to you – in maybe more than the 4 hours officially designated. A wild thumbsuck target set by Westminster wonks who never drive themselves.

But what can you expect when traffic in Central London is only 8.98 mph?

They never learn, do they? That’s the same speed as a horse-drawn carriage in 1830.

Dedication and respect

But at least the ambulance people get to you!

And that’s when you find out – they’re the only people in the whole world who care.

Who treat you with respect and consideration.

There you are, terrified, with a rib sticking through your chest.

Who else in the world is so calm, so soothing, so skilled that every movement puts you at your ease? (Tweet this)

You know you’re in good hands.

Even the Aussie blokes say so – top paramedics, selected from Sydney’s best.

Because London is the busiest ambulance service in the world and that’s why they want to work here. 5,000 calls a day is a challenge they can’t resist – remember Crocodile Dundee?

It’s OK

They’re here to help you. To reassure, to care, to get you towards feeling better.

They’re dedicated and professional too.

But who teaches them that wonderful compassion and the skill to restore confidence, only a few short years out of school? The Aussies, the Kiwis, the Poles – or our own home-grown heroes, right here in the Old Country?

Nobody else in the world can care for you better.

Not even your GP, who’s swamped with patients now out-of-hours work is stopped.

And it’s a terrifying world when you don’t know what’s happened to you.

Especially at 2.00 in the morning, when NHS paramedics are the only people on the planet who are concerned that you’re having a panic attack.

They don’t call it love, but that’s what it is.

Compassion and care for fellow human beings, totally selfless and unreserved.

So the NHS is the biggest waste of money in the UK is it?

Political rethink

Try remembering that when you’ve fallen down the stairs and you think you’re going to die.

The only people who are going to help you are wearing NHS badges – and they’re in the middle of a 12-hour shift.

You slag them off, but they still love you.

Even enough to save you from yourself.

Think nobody cares? How about ambulance crews?

Lizzy Pickup
Paramedic Lizzy Pickup pulled an unconscious mum from a blazing house (with thanks to Gazette Live)

Time to review your belief in saints.

There’s two in your rear-view mirror, coming up fast – Mercedes Sprinter, blue lights flashing.

On a shout for some bloke who fell down the stairs at a stag do. Broken collar-bone, nasty head gash, heavy bruises and unconscious.

Real live care

Or they could be on the way to your place – your wife can’t breathe and she’s having a panic attack.

Real people with professional skills and bucket-loads of a quality no-one else has got. (Tweet this)

Compassion.

The only people in the world who give you time when others turn away.

Well think about it.

Two in the morning, who do you call?

Your Doc doesn’t do call-outs any more. The help-lines don’t understand you – or you can’t understand them. Online stuff is confusing – and you’re getting more worried by the second.

Thank goodness

Then the knock at the door.

Relief, reassurance, confidence.

Solid professionals with an easy feel.

World-class paramedics who know what they’re doing.

Strangers who do more to help you than the rest of the world combined.

Because two in the morning is a very scary place when things go wrong.

You need your Mum. You need your Dad. You need a doctor, medicine, encouragement, help.

And here’s two of them all in green – all these things and more.

Ordinary people like the rest of us. But with a caring feel and commitment  no-one could ever teach – kind-heartedness straight from the soul.

Yes, they’re quick. But they take their time. Rushing a patient creates problems.
You’re panicky, your wife can’t talk – so the first thing they get is garbled, disjointed, and not very accurate.

They do the checks – blood pressure, temperature, breathing. Step One, assess and stabilise.

They put her on oxygen, wrap her in a blanket – why didn’t you think of that?

Steady does it

Will they take her to hospital?

Quiet voices, steady, calming.

Colour in her cheeks now, no more gasping for air.

They take their time, but the clock is ticking. There’s a radio alert, tense, urgent.

Your wife smiles. You know the signs. Time to put the kettle on.

The two saints decline – the blonde girl with the pony tail, younger than your daughter. And the dark one with rosy cheeks.

So grown-up, but just kids – looking after the whole world.

Your wife gets tablets and a shot. More like herself and breathing easy. Back to bed, less distressing than A&E.

The two saints go. Twenty minutes and the world returns to normal.

Back to confidence. Back to being you.

They leave without lights or siren. Another ten hours ahead of them before they’re off shift.

The only people in the whole world who care when nobody else does. (Tweet this)

Harder worked than any of us will ever be. More stretched, more challenged. Yet by some miracle, totally dedicated to looking after you and me.

Think about that next time some wazzock bad-mouths them on TV.

They’ll help him too, if he needs it.

Nice to believe in human goodness again.

Red-faced Rudolf forced to take a rain check

Sneezing Santa

Christmas emergency: a serious infection alert has cancelled this year’s traditional delivery

Sorry folks, that famous and long-awaited sleigh ride won’t be happening this year.

Seems that red nose of Rudolph’s is causing major ructions at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Alarm bells are going off that it’s a warning symptom of H5N1 or other avian flu – one of the nasty ones.

Pandemic alert

With only days to this year’s round-the-world distribution trip, the whole delivery team – Rudolph, Santa and all the helpers – are under lockdown. Strict quarantine against any new pandemic breaking loose.

Despite high expectations and the world-famous nature of the trip, looks like the CDC has had Santa and Rudolph under surveillance for a long time.

Germ-spreading fomites

High on the list of worries is the huge sack of fomites – objects or substances which are capable of carrying infectious organisms from one individual to another.

Though each is individually gift-wrapped and addressed, there are no facilities aboard the sleigh to ensure they are properly disinfected and pathogen-free.

The lack of washing facilities aboard is also identified as a major health risk.

Asked for comment, Santa was overcome by a coughing fit, but did manage to identify that a back-up system was in place.

UV protection

Prior to departure, presents will be sterilised by longer than usual exposure to the Aurora Borealis at the North Pole. The ultra violet light present in the phenomenon will ensure all viruses and bacteria are removed before take-off.

Actual delivery will be by a fleet of high altitude NASA Global Hawk drones. For Santa watchers, high intensity white strobe lights will substitute for Rudolph’s more familiar red glow.

The whole journey can be tracked as normal via the official NORAD Santa Tracker website.

Hike hygiene levels high

Advice from the Santa Corporation is that children should be sure to wash their hands thoroughly before eating or opening presents – and be sure to follow proper hygiene when going to the toilet.

An upgraded delivery system is already in preparation for next year.

Merry Christmas everyone – and keep well!

Open wide… no chance of infection here

Dental checkup

No chance any infection will get you while you’re here

Terrified of the dentist? You shouldn’t be. These days it doesn’t hurt – and when your mouth feels healthy, so do you.

Unless you’re worried about infection of course. That Nottingham dentist did nothing for anyone’s confidence.

Strictly come clean

But your own dentist has strict hygiene rules to follow – and you can bet he does. With around 20 billion oral microbes living in your mouth – more than the number of people living on earth – no way he’s taking chances.

If you think about it, a dentist’s surgery is like a hospital operating room, so some basic rules apply:

  • All surfaces are disinfected between patients.
  • Hands are washed and new gloves pulled on between patients.
  • All instruments are heat-sterilised between patients.

UV in the OR

Plus, after the Nottingham case, you might notice your dentist has a new toy. A schnazzy new ultra violet light generator.

Because in a hospital you personally get prepped before any operation – cleaned, disinfected, sterilised – made safe.

But dental patients walk in straight off the street. And every single one of us wears an aura of at least 3 million viruses and bacteria all the time – every one of them looking for a way into our bodies to start their mischief.

OK, so you’re at the dentist.

Then what happens? Your dental operation starts bang, straight away.

But you’re still in your street clothes, with slush on your shoes, no opportunity to wash your hands – you touch the dentist’s chair, the armrest and maybe something else – what sort of things are you bringing in for the next patient to run the risk of?

Well, none.

NONE.

Because you’ll notice that when the patient before you comes out, so do the dentist and the nurse –they don’t want to be exposed and things are about to happen in there.

Death ray for germs

They close the door. The dentist presses a remote control – not for catch-up TV, but for the ultra violet generator.

ZAP!

Inside the surgery the machine goes into action, blitzing every germ dead  – in the air, on surfaces – destroying their DNA by irradiation. Pumping out high intensity ultra violet light in the shortwave C spectrum, pulsed in concentrated flashes to minimise human exposure.

5 minutes and it’s safe. The room is sterile. No germs for you to catch except those you brought with you. And you’ve survived the day so far, ain’t nothing going to happen now.

You go into the surgery with the dentist and nurse. No germs, no nothing, the whole room is 99.999% free of them – what they call Sterility Assurance Level 5 (ever so posh).

Still worried about the dentist?

Don’t be.

If you’ve ever had raging toothache at 4.00 in the morning, you’ll know he’s on your side.

Please, please, help our paramedic heroes

Fallen down stairs
Always there when we need them – just call 999

Temperatures are plunging, but the NHS is in meltdown.

There’s massive and unprecedented demands on the service all over  – ambulance services, A&Es, treatment centres stretched to the limit as if it’s New Year’s Eve.

It might be an ordinary week in the run up to Christmas, but more people are feeling the sudden cold and succumbing, more victims are being felled in norovirus attacks, and more people are drinking themselves silly – more arguments, more fights, more injuries, more accidents.

Pre-Christmas crisis

With 11,008 call outs last week, London Ambulance Service has raised its service status to critical.

The rest of the country was equally scary – West Midlands 3,550, North West 3,973, East of England 3,278.

Scarier still is that around 1 in every 10 call outs is alcohol related – a legacy of low prices that encourage drinking at home before a night out – straight into a drinking culture fuelled by festive season bonhomie and extended opening hours.

Many other calls are unnecessary, paramedics responding to patients who should have gone to their GP.

But many people can’t get to their GP. With many surgeries only open during business hours, waiting times for an ordinary appointment can be a week or more. Not good when you’re hurting and need attention NOW.

Going to A&E has the same problem. First priority is of course to more serious cases – but even for acute pain you can expect to be triaged to a standard 4-hour wait.

Paramedic superstars

So it’s the ambulance crews who take the brunt – long 12-hour shifts with no let up from pressure.

The stress is amazing. Response time for a life-threatening emergency is supposed to be eight minutes. Not easy when traffic congestion alone could make journeys ten times longer.

A bottle-neck in many A&Es ramps up the pressure. They’re busy in there.

Backed up when they should be on the road, ambulances might queue four and five deep to reach a hospital bay – and during that time the patient is the crew’s responsibility – along with pressure to cope with still more incidents happening out there, round the clock…

Across the board the NHS is receiving £700 million to cope with this year’s pressure. It’s not enough and all of it should go to the ambulance service urgently.

Because in case you hadn’t noticed, life isn’t as easy as it once was. GPs no longer make house calls. And when you finally do get through to an appointment, five minutes consultation time is your lot – next please, there’s people waiting.

But call 999 and the ambulance service comes running. Which means that paramedics are way more than the frontline emergency teams they’re trained to be. And as the sharp edge of the NHS, their work takes the heat off right through the whole system , not least through overworked A&Es.

In safe hands

You see, to Tom, Dick or Harrys like us, getting sick or having an accident is a major drama. We’re scared, we don’t know what’s happening to us, we anticipate the worst.

Which is where the training of our paramedics is so amazing. And why they get called so often.

Theirs is the calm, confident voice of the professional. Reassuring. Soothing. You’re obviously in the hands of experts. You can relax.

You’re in your own home too. Not the daunting environment of a hospital. Familiar things surround you while practiced hands provide care. You’re going to be OK. No panic attacks. No nervous reactions. No complications.

If you’ve ever been cared for by an ambulance crew you’ll know the quiet sureness, the easy confidence – already three-quarters of the way to feeling better.

Meet your new GP

Which makes them our new GPs – and then some. And every year 1 in 20 of us will call urgently for their services.

Not for “take two aspirins and call me in the morning” either – but for serious needs like segment elevation myocardial infarction – a type of heart attack.

Anything in fact, from minor injuries to cardiac arrest, to multiple casualties from serious road accidents. How many GPs can handle that?

Our paramedics are still in the hot seat though. The NHS is a big place and £700 million doesn’t go very far in a country that needs expert care 24/7.

More ambulances, more crews, more systems to handle them, they’re urgent now.

Because come rain or shine, our paramedics are always there when we need them – no matter how tired, hungry or rushed of their feet they are.

Genuine heroes.

And they deserve better than 10p in the pound for saving our lives.

Your life is in your own hands

Beauty pose
You touch your face 3,000 times a day – and what else?

We control our own destiny more than we think.

Yes, we choose our own directions – and yes, we drive ourselves at our own pace. It’s by our own efforts, or not at all.

But pretty well none of it is possible without hands. They are the do-ers that make things happen – that turn ideas into reality.

Amazing things, really. They do everything, go everywhere.

And that’s the problem.

Dangerous touches

Because the things they touch are seldom pure. Like everything else in this world, they’re covered in bacteria – some good, some bad. Many transferred on contact to our fingertips or palms.

Germs, right? Invisible microorganisms that can make you very ill or kill you. Impossible to avoid and a continual mission to get rid of. Which effectively means you’re at hazard all of the time.

Well, sort of.

World’s smallest killers

To a virus or bacteria that’s barely a thousandth of a micron across, your hand is an armour-plated tank. Tough and chemically hostile, it offers no way in to the body – an impenetrable no-go barrier to infecting a meal-ticket host.

Ain’t nothing to do with a surface like that except hang on. Which plenty of germs do – upwards of three million of them, around us like an aura every day.

Smart move.

Because it’s what our hands do next that matters.

Touching other stuff.

Beware fomites

Keyboard, phone, door-handle, document, money, clothing, loo seat, poo, wee, Coke bottle, chips, tomato sauce – these are all what are called “fomites”, made famous by Kate Winslet’s character Dr. Erin Mears in the movie Contagion.

Fomites are substances or objects that can transfer germs – your handbag, keys, scarf, watch-strap – triggering a whole roller-coaster ride of infection – where germs get to meet other germs, and gang up together for fun, fun, fun.

Spot the missing touch?

You got it. Your face. Otherwise known as germ heaven. The guaranteed way in for infection – through your mouth, up your nose, in the sensitive bits round your eyes, even your ears.

And without thinking of it, we touch our faces two or three  times a minute – that’s up to three thousand times a day! Three thousand germ-entry opportunities every day of your life.

The missing obsession

Which kind of emphasises the other missing touch – soap and water.

Most of the time we’re so full of ourselves rushing around, we don’t really think of washing hands. Yet if you think of the fomites we encounter doing that, we’re at hazard all the time.

Yes, it is possible to get some protection. Wash everything – tables, plates, knives, forks. Disinfect everything – loos, wash basins, kitchen sinks. All the schlep of daily life.

It’s even possible to sterilise all around us. A dose of UV radiation or misting up the place with hydrogen peroxide will clobber all viruses and bacteria down to nothing – even killers like bubonic plague and Ebola.

But it’s all kind of useless if we traipse into our specially sterilised room and shake hands for an interview straight after a nervous but necessary dash to the WC.

At your peril

Washed your hands?

Er, yes, but that quick rinse under the tap doesn’t crack it. And using the pull-down towel doesn’t help. When the roll is finished, everybody’s germs all wind up on the same piece of cotton.

Ask any medic, and they’ll tell you that a proper scrub-up to get rid of germs takes at least five minutes. And that’s a schlep too – seriously hot water, scouring underneath and scrubbing your nails, getting right down between your fingers – then disposable towels or an air dryer.

And it all needs to be done again as soon as you touch something!

So the Hand Hygiene brigade are not so paranoid after all. This is the flu season, with all kinds of other nasties lurking out there as well – norovirus, salmonella, campylobacter. You can blame other circumstances just so far, but you’ve got to come to the party as well.

Just like everything in life, isn’t it? Keep your hands clean, or it will come back to bite you.

Because it’s pretty silly to die for something that isn’t necessary.