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Hospitals see rise in MRSA

PUBLISHED: 16:07 20 December 2008 | UPDATED: 12:36 03 July 2010

RATES of the hospital superbug MRSA are still falling, although some of the region's hospitals have seen rises in the last few months.

Quarterly figures released by the Health Protection Agency show that nationally, MRSA cases fell by 13pc in July to September, with 725 cases compared with 837 in the previous three months, and by 33pc compared with the same period last year.

RATES of the hospital superbug MRSA are still falling, although some of the region's hospitals have seen rises in the last few months.

Quarterly figures released by the Health Protection Agency show that nationally, MRSA cases fell by 13pc in July to September, with 725 cases compared with 837 in the previous three months, and by 33pc compared with the same period last year.

But in Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire the number of cases rose by 35pc, from 20 in June to August to 27 in July to September. There were five cases at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital compared with one in the previous three months, three cases at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn, which also had one in the previous three months, and one at the West Suffolk Hospital, which had none in the previous three months. But the James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston had fewer cases, one compared with three in the previous three months.

Over the whole six-month period the N&N had the lowest rate of MRSA per patient in Norfolk, and has also cut its rate substantially in recent years. The best in the region was Papworth Hospital, which had no cases, followed by the West Suffolk Hospital, Ipswich Hospital and the N&N.

Anna Walker, chief executive of the Healthcare Commission, said: “NHS trusts are taking infection prevention and control very seriously. This has played a key role in the decline in MRSA rates. [But] We have seen from our inspections and assessments that many trusts still have gaps in their systems that need closing.”

Judith Richards, director of infection prevention and control at the N&N, said: “There has been a culture change from accepting the infections happen to a zero tolerance approach but there remains no room for complacency. There will always be new organisms which will develop and sweep through the community. These infections then show up in hospitals where older patients and those with complex health problems are more vulnerable to infection.”

The N&N has this year expanded its MRSA screening programme to all patients having planned surgery. Between 2 and 10pc of the population are thought to carry MRSA on the skin without any health problems, but the bacteria can cause an infection when a patient has a deep wound, an intravenous drip or catheter. Patients found to be carrying MRSA are offered an antibacterial skin wash and cream for the nostrils which helps to clear the bacteria before they go into hospital.

The hospital has also been tackling MRSA through staff training, an emphasis on cleanliness and hand-washing and using single rooms to isolate patients with an infection.


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