A NEW set of league tables showing which hospitals have the best - and the worst - records on hygiene have been launched today by Health Minister, John Denham MP.

The Southampton Itchen MP told the Daily Echo that publishing the information is the latest move by the government to encourage hospitals to clean up their act on standards of hygiene.

He said: "This is the next step in the battle against hospital- acquired infection. We have set out quite clearly for hospitals how they should identify the risk from hospital-acquired infections and there are infection control nurses.

"We have made it clear that it is the chief executives of hospitals who should take full personal responsibility.

"Now we have taken this a step further by saying the public has the right to know how well hospitals are doing, with the control of hospital-acquired infections."

Mr Denham said the public was more aware of the risk of infection and they deserved to know which hospitals had the best hygiene records. Until now hospitals have given information about infections on their premises on a voluntary basis. Now it will be compulsory for them to submit records to the government so the league tables can be compiled.

"This is not just about naming and shaming - but we do know that if people are aware that this information is going to be published, it focuses their attention on the problem," he said.