MRSA superbug rises show deep clean did not work

MRSA superbug infections caught in hospital are still at unacceptable levels and Labour is failing to tackle the problems of fatal bugs in the correct way, the Conservatives said.

New figures released showed C.Difficile infection cases had gone down but there were still nearly 10,000 cases in those aged over 65.

And while MRSA cases have dropped over the past year they rose slightly in the last quarter of 2007.

Figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in February showed a huge rise in the number of death certificates mentioning C diff.

In England and Wales, there was a 72% rise, from 3,757 mentions in 2005 to 6,480 in 2006.

Death rates involving C diff increased by 77% among males and 66% among females between 2005 and 2006.

Rates went up from 37 to 65.5 per million males, and from 38.6 to 64.2 per million females.

Andrew Lansley, the Shadow Health Secretary, said: “From start to finish, Labour’s attitude to hospital infections has been woefully misguided. For years even their own advisers have been telling them that the way to tackle the problem is to identify infected patients as early as possible and then isolate them to make sure others don’t catch it.

“But Labour have ignored the experts and Gordon Brown has stubbornly chosen to put time, money and effort into a ‘deep clean’ which made a good headline but wasn’t backed up by any evidence.

“These figures are for the period when the ‘deep clean’ started. If it had been effective we would be expecting to start to see a decrease in the number of infections, not another rise.”

The new data shows there were 1,087 cases of MRSA during October to December 2007.

This represents a 0.6% increase on the previous quarter, when 1,080 cases were reported to the Health Protection Agency.

In the same quarter in 2006 there were 1,543 cases.

Meanwhile, figures for the bug Clostridium difficile (C diff) showed an 8% drop, to 9,872 cases in patients aged 65 and over between October and December 2007 compared with the previous quarter.

However, the HPA warned that changes to how NHS trusts report their C diff figures could have influenced the result, as some data may be incomplete.

The HPA stressed it could not be confident that the apparent reduction was an accurate reflection of the current situation.

Dr Duckworth, who is head of the HPA’s healthcare-associated infection and antimicrobial resistance department, said: “Over the last year cases of MRSA bloodstream infection have been steadily falling.

“We would obviously like to have seen the trend continued in this quarter and hope that ongoing surveillance will show that this plateau is not indicative of a levelling trend, but we need to see next quarter’s figures.

“The NHS has faced a great challenge in turning around the seemingly unstoppable rise in MRSA bloodstream infections that we saw throughout the 1990s.

“The substantial decreases seen in recent quarters clearly demonstrate the huge efforts made by our NHS colleagues to combat these infections.

“Although the current figures indicate a plateau, variations in the rate of decrease over time are not unexpected and are not necessarily a cause for alarm.”

Professor Peter Borriello, director of the HPA’s centre for infections, said: “The reduction of healthcare-associated infections is a big challenge throughout the world.

“The Agency continues to support the hard work of our NHS colleagues in combating these infections and the never-ending battle to fight all types of infection.”


Health Direct notes that once again labour’s dithering is literally killing people with preventable early deaths at the same time as wasting yet more taxpayers’ money.

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