Hospitals fail to pass latest MRSA superbug hygiene test

Only one in 10 NHS hospitals are complying fully with a compulsory hygiene code intended to prevent MRSA hospital acquired infections, the NHS inspectorate has found in a series of spot checks.

Unannounced visits to 51 big acute hospitals – around a third of the total in England – found just five following the hygiene code completely. One in five did not comply with all the requirements for safe decontamination of instruments. One in eight had inadequate isolation facilities.

Twenty-seven of the 51 were failing to keep all of their premises clean and well maintained. And in three cases the failings were bad enough for the Healthcare Commission to issue improvement notices with which, it said, the hospitals have complied.

The figures were attacked as shocking by opposition politicians. However, the inspectorate said that 97 per cent of the lapses “did not represent an immediate risk to the safety of patients”.

It added, however, that “almost all acute trusts have more work to do to get systems for infection prevention and control in place”. From April next year, they will have to comply with the code or risk fines, or even removal of their licence to operate.

Anna Walker, chief executive of the Healthcare Commission, said it was clear despite the findings that trusts were making progress on infection control. With three exceptions, the breaches of the code found were not “the most serious kind” although they showed there was still work to do.


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