Infection rates are falling in Scottish hospitals but health boards have to do more to keep them clean, an inspection has found.
Rates of C. diff and MRSA in elderly patients fell between October 2011 and September 2012, the Healthcare Environment Inspectorate (HEI) reported.
The HEI conducted 31 inspections over the period and found hospitals to be "generally clean", but said more attention has to be paid to hard-to-reach areas such as under beds, on top of curtain rails and floor corners. The cleaning of patient equipment should also be improved and cleaning schedules need to be properly filled out, the report said.
The HEI made 110 requirements and 81 recommendations for hospitals in the period, down from 172 requirements and 180 recommendations in the first report conducted in 2009-10.
Rates of C. diff among elderly patients fell by 37% and cases of MRSA fell by 35% over the same period.
The report was published as Health Secretary Alex Neil officially opened the Royal Victoria Building at the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh. The new building has only single rooms for patients, which health bosses believe will reduce the risk of infections contracted while in hospital.
Mr Neil said: "It is vital that the public have absolute confidence in the care they will receive if they need hospital treatment and this report shows exactly why we set up this inspection regime.
"I am determined to achieve improved performance right across the NHS in Scotland on healthcare-associated infections, and to ensure that patients and the public can have complete confidence in the cleanliness of hospitals and the quality and safety of services. I am encouraged to see notable improvements in hospitals, but we are not complacent and I recognise there are still a number of areas where further improvement is needed."
Some medical professionals are against the use of only single rooms, believing it will leave patients isolated.
Professor Chris Isles, a consultant at Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary, said: "If an older person falls in a single room then the odds are they could lie there for some time before being discovered. Dumfries and Galloway, which only has 20% single rooms, needs far more single rooms - however there is no good evidence that single rooms on their own lead to a reduction in hospital-acquired infections. There is evidence that if you have intensive infection control measures, that include single rooms, that's effective in controlling MRSA, but most of us believe that hand washing is key here."