The Conservatives have called on both the Scottish Government and health boards to take firmer action on handwashing after they obtained figures which show that one nurse was dismissed from a hospital in the borders for breaching handwashing guidelines.
Health bosses and ministers have suggested in the past that disciplinary action may be the only way to get through to those who repeatedly ignore warnings.
Scottish Conservative health spokesman and deputy leader Jackson Carlaw MSP said that the SNP has chosen to scrap bi-monthly audits, which consistently revealed poor compliance levels in various areas of the country. He condemned the Scottish Government and health boards for not taking the problem seriously.
He said: "Managers are not coming good on their threats of disciplinary action. There's no punishment for those who continually breach the rules."
A Scottish Government spokesman said: "We expect all health boards to encourage zero tolerance by all NHS staff towards non-compliance.
"When it comes to reducing hospital infections we have made significant progress but cannot afford to be complacent. Everyone has a role to play in ensuring that case numbers continue to fall and good hand hygiene is one of the most effective ways of preventing the spread of infections such as Clostridium difficile and MRSA in our hospitals.
"Under this Government cases of MRSA have fallen by 85.9%, and cases of C. diff infection in patients aged 65 and over have decreased by 82.3 per cent."