Brown’s superbug plans ignore evidence claims Lancet

Labour government plans for tackling superbugs, such as MRSA, have been condemned by a leading medical journal for not being based on scientific fact. The Lancet said there was little evidence to support hospital “deep cleans” or short sleeves for medical staff as recently proposed.

Instead of “pandering to populism” politicians should listen to the evidence, the editorial said.

The government said the plans were part of a wide range of preventive measures.

Prime Minister Gordon Stalinist Brown announced plans to “deep clean” hospitals ward by ward over the next year to return hospitals to the state they were in when they were built.

His comments followed proposals from Health Secretary Alan Johnson for a new dress code for NHS staff which would advise against long-sleeved coats and ties for doctors as they can become contaminated.

But The Lancet said a government working group had found no conclusive evidence that uniforms or other work clothes posed a significant hazard in terms of spreading infection.

Instead the focus should be on disinfection of high touch surfaces rather than deep-cleaning wards to get rid of visible dirt, the journal said.

The editorial said: “Brown also plans to double the number of hospital matrons, to check on ward cleaning, and accost doctors wearing long sleeves.

“They would be better employed making sure doctors, nurses and visitors wash their hands properly, the proven way to stop hospital acquired infections,” the editorial stated.

Professor Richard James, director of the Centre for Healthcare Associated Infections at the University of Nottingham agreed the evidence on transmission of infection from clothing such as long sleeves was not clear but short sleeves may encourage staff to wash their hands properly.

He added: “The main route of transmission of MRSA is person-to-person contact and this will be affected little by deep cleaning.

“In contrast, Clostridium difficile is transmitted by contact with faecal contamination so it may be more effective here.”

He said in addition to hand washing, other useful strategies would be screening patients for MRSA on admission, regular use of hydrogen peroxide vapour generators to kill bugs in the hospital environment and educating patients and visitors on ways they can reduce risk.

Chief Nursing Officer, Professor Christine Beasley said there was no single solution and the new proposals were part of a wider set of measures to reduce hospital-acquired infections.

She agreed that there was no evidence that uniforms themselves pose a significant risk of transmitting infections but said long sleeves and watches “get in the way of washing and decontaminating the hands, wrists and forearms”.

“Clean and tidy hospitals and staff are very important to patients,” she said. “We make no apology for asking hospitals to take every reasonable measure to reduce infection and increase patient confidence that this is an issue the NHS is taking seriously.”

Dr Mark Enright, an expert in molecular epidemiology at Imperial College, London said deep cleaning would be a waste of resources and an inconvenience to patients and staff.

“MRSA is a major problem in the UK because it is present, mostly unknowingly, in patients and staff.

“Interrupting the chain of transmission from these people to new hosts should be the main focus of infection control, not attempts at the sterilisation of floors and windows.”

From:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/7016425.stm

On Sept 26, 2007 Health Direct posted: Gordon Stalinist Brown pledge on NHS funding and MRSA as hospitals are to use new deep clean techniques in which wards are stripped and subjected to steam cleaning and high strength disinfectant in an attempt to reduce outbreaks of MRSA and C difficle superbugs.

Earlier this year (11 Jan 07) Health Direct also posted that NHS hospitals may never achieve MRSA superbug targets when the NHS was not on track to meet its MRSA target and perhaps never will, a leaked labour government memo said.

Allergy epidemic gets poor care in the UK

Poor care and confusing advice is being used to deal with an allergy epidemic in the UK, experts have said. The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee warned there were not enough specialist services and that food labelling was inadequate.

The cross-party group of peers said the UK was lagging behind western Europe. It also called for advice to pregnant women and young children not to eat peanuts to be withdrawn. The labour government said the findings would be considered.

It comes after the Commons Health Committee criticised the lack of services in 2004.

The number of people suffering allergic reactions has trebled in the last 20 years with a third of the population estimated to suffer at some point in their lives.

Each year over 6,000 people in England are admitted to hospital – a quarter of these with anaphylaxis which is a severe and potentially life- threatening reaction involving breathing difficulties.

Allergic reactions are caused by substances in the environment known as allergens, of which the most common are pollen from trees and grasses, house dust mites, wasps, bees and food such as milk and eggs.

The Lords report called for specialist allergy centres to be set up in each region similar to the models operating in Denmark and Germany.

At the moment there are over 90 clinics, but only six are led by allergy consultants that can treat and diagnose the full range of conditions.

The report said GPs and other health professionals had poor knowledge of allergies and recommended allergy training becomes a more important component of medical training.

The committee also heard evidence that abstaining from eating peanuts in pregnancy and in the early years may be increasing the risk of allergies developing and as a result called for a change to government guidance.

The peers said food warnings – which commonly involve the catch-all term “may contain nuts” – need to be clearer with details of the specific amounts of allergen contained within the product.

The report also called for better training for school staff to deal with allergies.

The government currently advises pregnant women and young children not to eat peanuts because of the risk of allergic reactions. But the House of Lords committee said this should be withdrawn after hearing evidence from experts that abstaining may increase the risk of developing an allergy.

The Department of Health says the guidance is based on expert advice, but it will look at it after hearing form a Food Standards Agency allergen review

Committee chairman Baroness Finlay said: “We have a severe shortage of expert medical provision to deal with allergies. “The government must now take steps to deal with this problem.”

Jules Payne from the British Allergy Foundation agreed with the findings. She said: “The problem is clearly at epidemic levels, which the House of Lords report has recognised.

“It also recognises that there’s an appalling lack of allergy services within the NHS in the UK. Now at the moment we’ve got people who wait for months, if not years, for a referral to see an allergy specialist, so that really does need addressing.”

Muriel Simmons, of the Allergy UK support group, welcomed the report, saying allergy services needed improving.

But she added: “Similar recommendations were made in 2004, but there has been nothing in the last three years to suggest that the government is taking serious steps to ease the burden of allergy sufferers.”

A Royal College of Physicians spokeswoman said: “A post code lottery prevails.”

From:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/7012794.stm

Health Direct observes that one of the limitations of centralist state control over any industry is that events constantly arise that don’t meet the pre proscribed targets regime.

With Stalinist Brown’s current supposed focus on MRSA superbugs, cancer and 18 week waiting times, the dramatic rise of allergy sufferers has missed his radar. Accordingly their plight will continue to worsen until he comes up with some more dictats.

Gordon Stalinist Brown pledge on NHS funding and MRSA

Hospitals are to use new deep clean techniques in which wards are stripped and subjected to steam cleaning and high strength disinfectant in an attempt to reduce outbreaks of MRSA and C difficle superbugs.

The move comes as Gordon Brown seeks to make the state of the National Health Service a top priority and will be funded with £50 million from strategic health authority budgets.

Deep cleaning will be used to target the superbug Clostridium difficile, which has proved more difficult to reduce than MRSA.

Hospitals are expected to begin the programme from December, although health professionals said that basic hygiene, such as handwashing and other cleanliness, was the key to eradicating hospital-acquired infections.

Mr Brown announced the move in a column in a Sunday newspaper, writing: “A ward at a time, walls, ceilings, fittings and ventilation shafts will be disinfected and scrubbed clean.”

Mike Penning, a Conservative health spokesman, said: “Thousands of relatives who have lost loved ones to hospital diseases each year will be asking, ‘What has Gordon Brown been doing for the past ten years?’”

From:
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article2518134.ece

As for the prospective of an imminent general election- don’t hold you breath as Brown like any bully is running scared. He hasn’t got the funds nor the candidates in place

Sir Bob Worcester, of Mori, is unconvinced. “The polls are being so misread that I almost weep reading some of this nonsense,” he said. “There is absolutely no way this guy is going to call an election.”

Health Direct notes that the Stalinist’s trite idea of deep cleaning hospitals over Christmas is as fatuous as John Not Fit For Purpose Reid’s broken promise of halving the number of MRSA cases. The government hasn’t a clue how many people have MRSA now- up until last month they only counted cases in the over 65 year olds.

Also Brown cynically doesn’t promise clean wards. All he mentions is cleaner hospitals. Until he develops a zero tolerance towards dirty hospitals we are all going to suffer.

Earlier this year (11 Jan 07) Health Direct also posted that NHS hospitals may never achieve MRSA superbug targets when the NHS was not on track to meet its MRSA target and perhaps never will, a leaked labour government memo says.

On 2 May 07 Health Direct posted that Deadly NHS superbugs continue rising with C difficile again up when more hospital patients in England are getting the deadly Clostridium difficile bug, figures show.

Health Protection Agency (HPA) data showed 55,681 cases were reported among over 65s in 2006 – up 8% in a year. MRSA cases continued their downward trend, but they are not falling quickly enough to meet Labour’s target next year.

Foundation trusts increase cash as patient care declines

Foundation trusts, a flagship of the labour government’s National Health Service reforms, are building a growing cash mountain that they appear unable or unwilling to invest in improved services. The sums involved are up by more than £300m from about £1bn at the end of the last financial year to £1.32bn in the first three months of this year.

Much of the money is concentrated in a minority of the 67 foundation trusts, and some of it appears to reflect prepayment for work not yet done.

The surplus exceeds the £1bn being forecast for the rest of the NHS. Foundation trusts account for only about a third of acute and mental health spending.

Some of the cash is simply working capital but a significant part of it could be invested in new or improved services.

Reporting the first quarter results, Monitor, the foundation trust regulator, said their financial strength put foundation trusts “in a good position to invest in reshaping services for the benefit of their communities”.

But they were reluctant to do so yet because it was not clear what primary care trusts – the chief commissioners of care for patients – wanted to buy.

“There is an increasingly urgent need for clear indications from commissioners about their healthcare purchasing intentions,” said Bill Moyes, Monitor’s chairman. Without certainty about long-term requirements, trust boards were reluctant to invest.

The lack of clarity, he said, is “having an impact on the timing of significant investment decisions”.

But while Monitor says the lack of investment is not all the fault of foundation trusts, it also takes them to task for not using some of the money to invest in better environments for patients and ensuring they hit healthcare targets.

Twenty-two of the 67 are behind targets for the reduction of hospital-acquired infections, and some are behind on other government targets. A significant number are failing to make progress, having forecast in their annual plans that they would.

With the judgement of foundation trusts’ performance relying on a degree of self-certification, Mr Moyes warned that Monitor would put independent review teams into hospitals where boards appeared to make overly optimistic progress predictions.

The Foundation Trust Network – the body that represents foundation trusts – said it would be “concerned” if that “marked a move away from its role as a risk-based regulator towards direct performance management”.

From:
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/e351a596-68a2-11dc-b475-0000779fd2ac.html

The revelation from Monitor that fudged financial fiddling is still rife in the NHS reminds Health Direct of our posting on Patricia Hewitt’s distorted financial observation.

On June 07, 2007 Health Direct posted: NHS figures show 510m Pound annual surplus as the NHS apparently made a small surplus in 2006/07, figures unveiled by Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt showed.

The NHS recorded a surplus of £510 million, the data showed. However, 22% of NHS organisations are still in debt and unable to balance their books. The gross deficit of the NHS stood at £911 million, down from £1.3 billion in 2005/06.

To offset the deficit and create the surplus, regional health bosses have been building up cash reserves.

They took millions of pounds from primary care trust (PCT) budgets and held back £450 million from training and public health budgets.

Dr Jonathan Fielden, chairman of the British Medical Association’s Consultants’ Committee, said: “While the NHS may be in credit today, the journey to balance the books has wreaked havoc on the NHS and is a return to boom and bust health economics.

Professor Janet Finch, chair of the Universities UK health and social care policy committee, said: “On the face of it, today’s announcement is good news. But take a closer look at the Strategic Health Authorities’ ‘strategic reserves’ and they seem to consist of funds from the education and training budgets. If things continue in this way, it will be a disaster for patient care and health service morale. “

NHS is facing £4.5bn compensation bill over babies damaged at birth by hospital blunders

The NHS is facing £4.5bn in compensation claims over alleged blunders by midwives and doctors that have left babies suffering severe brain damage, The Observer and Health Direct reveals.

The huge sum is detailed in confidential data from the NHS Litigation Authority, which handles most of the legal claims for medical negligence against the health service in England.

It shows that the organisation has been fighting a barrage of legal cases in which the compensation being sought by families amounted to a total of £4.49bn. Three-quarters of that, £3.3bn, relates to incidents in which a child has developed cerebral palsy, brain damage which is often caused by being starved of oxygen during birth, and been left disabled. A further £739m involves claims over what the NHSLA calls ‘other brain damage’.

The disclosure that such large amounts of NHS cash could potentially have to be spent settling such claims has reopened the debate about the quality and safety of Britain’s maternity services.

Professor Sabaratnam Arulkumaran, the incoming president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, last night accused hospitals of putting babies and pregnant women at unnecessary risk by not employing enough senior staff on labour wards.

The number of consultants and midwives at up to half of hospitals ‘aren’t adequate’ and women using those hospitals are at greater risk of a problem arising, Arulkumaran said.

‘The staffing numbers for consultants aren’t adequate at 40 to 50 per cent of hospitals in the UK, though I’m sure that will apply to midwives too. The risk incidence must be greater at those hospitals,’ he said. ‘There’s a direct connection between staffing levels and the risk for patients. We know that the main cause of risk incidence is inadequate personnel.’

In a speech on 3 October Arulkumaran will say that, despite improvements, much more needs to be done. The number of consultants needs to increase immediately from 1,600 to at least 2,100 and ideally 2,500, in order to give women the best possible maternity care, he said. Money used for litigation would be better spent hiring more senior staff.

Next month the royal college, which represents Britain’s 5,500 specialist maternity doctors, and other specialists involved in maternity care will demand that the NHS significantly improves staffing levels.

A hard-hitting joint report, Safer Childbirth, will argue that the more babies a hospital delivers, the higher the level of cover it should provide. Any hospital which has at least 6,000 births a year should have a consultant obstetrician on duty around the clock, and until 10pm daily at those which deliver at least 5,000 babies, rather than just during the day as happens in most places at the moment, said Arulkumaran.

In his speech the royal college president will cite data showing that more than one in 100 births in England, Wales and Northern Ireland ends with the baby’s death in the womb, at delivery or within seven days of birth.

He will also highlight National Patient Safety Agency findings that the largest number of babies who die do so between midnight and 8am, a period when few hospitals have a consultant on duty.

The Department of Health defended the maternity services in England. Litigation costs could be high because lifetime care was expensive, it said. Gwyneth Lewis, its chief adviser on maternity care, said: ‘Due to the skill and expertise of our midwives and doctors, England is one of the safest places to have a baby.

There is no hard evidence to suggest that up to half of all maternity units are unsafe.’ He added that the government had overseen ‘a major expansion in the number of consultants’.

But Karlene Davis, general secretary of the Royal College of Midwives, said: ‘The service is at breaking point.’

From:
http://observer.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,,2175218,00.html

The plight of the midwifery profession will not be news to Health Direct readers: 5,000 extra midwives are needed to cope with the increase in birthrate RCM find On 3 Sept 2007- Health Direct posted- Nearly 5,000 more midwives will be needed by 2012 if the labour Government is to meet its target for maternity services, the Royal College of Midwives said.

The college has increased its target from 3,000 because of a rising birthrate, which has exceeded government estimates, and a reassessment of present shortages.

Brown bounce wanes on public services says another poll

Labour’s “Brown bounce” in the polls has receded as far as public services are concerned, according to polling by Ipsos Mori.

Ben Page, public affairs managing director, said that the public’s expectations about the economy and whether public services would improve had returned to the level they stood at when Tony Blair left office.

The polling company’s quarterly “delivery index” has long been used in Downing Street to track the public’s views on public service reform.

In May, as Gordon Brown prepared to take over as prime minister, fractionally more of those interviewed believed the government’s policy would improve the state of the economy in the long term.

By this month the net score between those who believe things will get better and those who believe they will get worse was minus seven.

On public services generally, those who believe things will get worse outnumber those who believe they will get better by 22 percentage points, against 13 in May.

That is chiefly due to expectations over the future performance of the National Health Service declining from a net score of minus 14 to minus 19.

That is nothing like as bad as in September last year, when the proportion who believed services would get worse outnumbered those who believed they would get better by 32 points.

“The NHS remains a key concern for the government,” Ipsos Mori said. But “crime, immigration and pensions are [also] key challenges for the Brown government – most of the public are currently pessimistic about these”.

A mere 20 per cent are confident that the government will manage immigration well, 23 per cent that they will do the right thing on pensions and 23 per cent that crime will reduce over the next few years.

From:
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/de5492aa-657e-11dc-bf89-0000779fd2ac.html

The dip in Stalinst Brown’s fortunes were highlighted in Health Direct’s post on 18 Sep 2007-
Labour lead halved as voters feel pinch when Gordon Stalinist Brown’s opinion poll lead has halved in the space of a month, making an early election much less likely, according to the latest Sunday Times-YouGov poll of more than 1,800 people.

Sex virus carried by 1 in 10 girls under 16

One in 10 girls under 16, the age of consent, has a sexually transmitted disease that could lead to cervical cancer, a government agency has found.

The Government is considering at what age girls should be vaccinated against human papillomavirus (HPV) amid concern that immunising pre-teens would encourage under-age sex.

Research by the Health Protection Agency found that, from the age of 14, the risk of HPV infection rises sharply. Up to 14, less than five per cent are infected with HPV.

The report said the findings are likely to be an underestimate of infection rates because of problems with the test and the figures should be considered conservative.

There are almost 3,000 new cases of cervical cancer in the UK each year and another study by the agency found that vaccination could prevent 70 per cent of them.

But the vaccines must be administered before infection with HPV and so it is recommended to introduce an immunisation programme for girls from the age of 12.

The agency investigated 1,483 girls from the age of 10 to 29 and results were presented at its conference in Warwick yesterday.

Professor Pat Troop, chief executive of the agency, said: “This study is a valuable addition to our understanding of HPV infection.”

From:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/09/20/nvirus120.xml

Labour govt overpays private groups £222m for NHS treatments

The Labour government is overpaying private hospital operators by more than £200 million to carry out surgery for NHS patients. In an effort to cut waiting lists, labour launched a programme in 2005 to outsource some routine surgery to the private sector.

It says that it is committed to buying £1.4 billion of services from independent surgical treatment centres (ISTC), including hip replacements, cataract surgery and diagnostics, during the initial phase of this programme.

However, according to the Department of Health, the scheme is running at 16 per cent below capacity in value terms, meaning that only £1.18 billion of services are provided by private hospitals for NHS patients.

The remaining £222 million of public money is being paid regardless because most of the hospitals’ operators have negotiated “take or pay” clauses in their contracts with the NHS. It means that they are paid the same sum regardless of whether the NHS sends enough patients.

A spokesman for the Department of Health agreed: “The whole programme utilisation of the wave-one ISTC programme is currently 84 per cent.”

The department declined to comment on capacity at individual centres, saying only that “specific details about individual schemes and their contracts are commercially sensitive”.

However, The Times has learnt of several individual ISTCs that have been operating well below capacity.

Mercury Health’s St Mary’s NHS Treatment Centre in Portsmouth is running at just 80 per cent of capacity, according to its owner, Care UK. It was contracted originally to perform 435,000 individual procedures for the NHS over five years. On current trends, it is expected to perform tens of thousands fewer than this.

Another ISTC, Capio Healthcare’s centre in Reading, was also undershooting significantly, although it has increased patient numbers recently and in July was operating at 90 per cent of capacity.

Graham Kendall, spokesman for the NHS Partners Network, the organisation representing independent healthcare providers, said that take-or-pay clauses were common and were crucial at the programme’s outset to justify the initial investment of building and equipping the centres.

Some insiders concede that they have damaged the industry’s reputation and in the new contracts under discussion for the second phase of the programme, due to begin in 2010, the clauses will be dropped, Mr Kendall said.

Privately, independent hospital operators blame poor estimates of numbers of patients when contracts were signed, as well as vested interests in the NHS that have made some trusts reluctant to refer patients to private hospitals. Institutional opposition from unions and other elements within the NHS hierarchy have proved another stumbling block, they say.

From:
http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/industry_sectors/health/article2485086.ece

Health Direct has witnessed many NHS cockups by the Department of Health, but these no work but pay clauses seem farcical in the extreme.

Labour rewards failure as NHS pays private companies for failed PFI bids On 8 May 07 Health Direct posted: Private companies that fail to win hospital building contracts are set to pocket millions of pounds in “compensation” from the NHS.

Hospitals negotiating private finance initiative (PFI) schemes could be forced to pay almost 2 per cent of the total contract costs to short-listed private companies which fail to secure deals, under proposals being discussed by the Department of Health (DoH).

On Aug 26, 2005 Health Direct also posted: Nearly 70,000 paid for diagnostic scans go unused
as the NHS is failing to use thousands of extra diagnostic scans bought by the Department of Health from the private sector last year.

More than half of the MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans – almost 70,000 – that the DoH bought on behalf of the NHS from Alliance Medical last year have yet to be used.

Labour lead halved as voters feel pinch

Gordon Stalinist Brown’S opinion poll lead has halved in the space of a month, making an early election much less likely, according to the latest Sunday Times-YouGov poll of more than 1,800 people.

While Labour enjoys a five-point lead over the Conservatives, it has slipped three points from 42% to 39% while the Tories have climbed from 32% to 34%. The Liberal Democrats, on the eve of their party conference, have edged up from 14% to 15% but remain well down on their 23% share of the vote in the May 2005 general election.

One threat for Brown is over the crisis in the financial markets, which led to the Bank of England’s rescue of Northern Rock last week. YouGov asked about the outlook for people’s finances over the next 12 months.

Only just over a quarter, 26%, said their finances would remain healthy, compared with 50% who said they would be under some pressure and 21% who predicted that they would be under a lot of pressure.

Even before the crisis, families were being squeezed by the five interest rate rises since August last year, higher energy costs and increases in food prices. Earnings have risen at a slower rate than prices.

According to the poll, 46% of people say they will spend less on non essential items over the next 12 months, against 12% who expect to spend more. Further increases in mortgage rates could add to the pressure, the poll suggests, with 16% expecting to face serious problems.

Another potential problem for Brown is over the new European Union reform treaty, which the government is expected to accept in the coming months. He has rejected a referendum on the treaty claiming it differs from the original EU constitution rejected by French and Dutch voters.

But, with some Labour MPs, the trade unions and the Tories backing calls for a referendum, the prime minister appears to be setting his face against public opinion. By 60% to 16%, voters think there should be a referendum on the treaty. Worryingly for Brown, this is also the strong view among Labour supporters, who back a vote by 47% to 28%.

Because Labour promised a referendum on the original constitution, voters believe, by 61% to 12%, that Labour would be breaking its pledge if it refuses to hold one on the treaty. As for how people would vote in such a referendum, more than a third don’t know, but of those who declared a view, 41% would reject it, with 17% in favour.

The poll also examined attitudes to the National Health Service, following Sir Derek Wanless’s report last week, which said that the NHS had not improved enough in return for the 50% real increase in spending poured in since 2002.

Only 6% think the NHS has got “much” better in recent years, while 21% say it is slightly better. In contrast, 22% say it is slightly worse and 19% much worse. By 68% to 18% they say taxpayers have not got good value for the extra money.

From:
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article2461294.ece

MRSA to force ban on doctors’ white coats

Doctors will be banned from wearing their traditional white coats as part of a drive to protect patients from contracting MRSA and C Difficle superbugs in hospital, Alan Johnson, the Health Secretary announces.

Staff will also be ordered to ditch their ties, wrist watches and jewellery amid fears that they prevent doctors and nurses from washing their hands properly.

The new “bare below the elbows” dress code, which hospitals in England will have to enforce by next January, will be one of a series of measures announced by Mr Johnson to cut the rate of hospital-acquired infections such as MRSA.

They come only weeks after a report found that British hospitals were among the worst in Europe for superbugs, trailing behind countries including Slovakia, Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic.

The Health Secretary will also announce that matrons will be given new powers to help the Government to meet the target it set three years ago of cutting MRSA rates by half by next year.

They will report directly to their hospital boards four times a year to ensure that their views are heard by senior management.

The measures follow a warning from doctors last month that the Government would not meet its MRSA target because of poor hospital management practices. Please see also the Health Direct posting below.

An editorial in The Lancet in August blamed hospital managers for failing to train staff in antibacterial prescribing, and providing inadequate hand-washing and isolation facilities.

Patient groups welcomed the initiatives but said they were concerned that they would not improve hygiene conditions in hospitals sufficiently.

“At the moment, about 60 per cent of doctors don’t wash their hands between patients,” said Derek Butler, the chairman of MRSA Action UK.

“We applaud Mr Johnson for his commitment to cutting infection rates but we think the biggest challenge is getting hospital staff to improve their standards of hygiene. If the Government can’t do that, they are going to struggle to cut MRSA rates.”

Hospitals will also be issued with new guidance about isolating patients who become infected with C. difficile or MRSA.

This will mean more single rooms being used and more “cohort nursing” – where patients suffering from the same infection are nursed together.

In addition, hospital chief executives will have to report all MRSA and C. difficile infections to the HPA, or face a fine.

Dame Karlene Davis, the general secretary of the Royal College of Midwives, welcomed the Government’s commitment to cutting infection rates.

“One of the biggest killers of child-bearing women was puerperal sepsis. This has improved significantly with the recognition of the need for hand hygiene to reduce cross-infection,” she said.

“This situation remains as relevant today as it did many decades ago and the RCM wholly supports any measure which seeks to avoid infection.”

From:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/09/17/nhealth117.xml

Health Direct applauds these moves.There has to be a zero tolerance approach to tackling MRSA superbugs. It is shocking that, after countless government initiatives, the number of hospitals failing to protect patients from these infections has quadrupled.

It’s a shame though that these measures will not take effect until January next year. Based on current statistics it will mean another 12,000 contracting these killer diseases unnecessarily.

Hospitals losing fight to defeat MRSA, C Difficile superbugs- health watchdog warns was posted by Health Direct on Tue 19 Jun 07- One in four NHS trusts is failing the latest labour government targets on cleanliness and tackling superbug infections.

Figures released by the Healthcare Commission show that six out of ten trusts in England have reported failing one or more of the twenty four “core standards” on all aspects of care, on which they are assessed by the NHS watchdog.

In April, statistics from the Health Protection Agency (HPA), the public health watchdog, showed that there were 55,681 cases of C. difficile in patients aged 65 and over in England in 2006. That figure was up by 8 per cent on 2005.