PreciSSIon (Preventing Surgical Site Infection across a region) is a multiple award-winning collaborative project to reduce the incidence of surgical site infection after elective colorectal surgery. The project started in November 2019 and involves all the hospitals in the West of England region. Watch our short film which introduces the project below or via this link.

Surgical site infection (SSI) refers to wound infections following invasive surgical procedures. SSI constitutes a major healthcare burden accounting for 14.5% of all hospital acquired infections in the UK and an estimated 34-226% increase in associated costs. It is also a significant cause of patient morbidity including increased length of stay, readmission, wound dehiscence, hernia, need for intensive care, as well as death. SSI is more common after colorectal surgery where wounds are frequently contaminated by bowel content and rates are reported between 8-30%.


The aim of PreciSSIon was to reduce surgical site infection after colorectal surgery by 50% by March 2021. In order to do this, we aimed to measure 30-day SSI rates and compliance with each element of the bundle.

We have met this aim and more, including saving over £500kplease read our news article celebrating some of the many achievements of PreciSSIon up to March 2021.

Award winning

In June 2021, PreciSSIon was shortlisted for two Patient Safety HSJ Awards:

  • Perioperative and Surgical Care Initiative of the Year
  • Infection Prevention and Control Award

At the awards, on 20 September 2021, and against hundreds of other projects,  PreciSSIon scooped the Infection Prevention and Control Award – read more about this achievement.

PreciSSIon also achieved the Quality Improvement Team of the Year at the BMJ Awards, with the ceremony taking place on 29 September 2021. Read more about the nomination.

The existing World Health Organisation (WHO) SSI bundle, which is part of the Surgical Safety Checklist, is routinely used throughout the NHS. It consists of four evidence-based interventions, which have been shown to independently reduce infection. These are:

  • antibiotics within 1 hour of surgery
  • normothermia – temperature >36 degrees in recovery
  • blood glucose control in known diabetics – glucose in normal range in recovery
  • appropriate hair removal from the surgical site – using clippers, not wet razors.

The PreciSSIon bundle was developed by reviewing literature for interventions that have been shown to reduce infection other than those included in the WHO bundle. It was introduced at North Bristol NHS Trust in February 2013 and consists of:

  • 2% chlorhexidine isopropyl skin preparation for all cases
  • use of a dual ring wound protector
  • repeat dose of antibiotics after 4 hours operating time
  • antibacterial suture for mass closure and skin.

The bundle elements have been further validated by inclusion in the 2016 WHO global guidelines on the prevention of surgical site infection, and more recently in the April 2019 update to NICE guidelines. These interventions are in addition to reliable implementation of the WHO bundle.

More information and resources are available on our webpages below, including the PreciSSIon Implementation Toolkit which includes references for the figures listed above.