Crackdown as levels of MRSA and C.difficile continue to be reduced
The Department of Health has announced a crackdown that aims to reduce cases of MRSA and C.difficile by up to 29% over the next 12 months.
Health Minister, Simon Burns, said the initiative comes on the back of progress made in 2011. If delivered, there would be 29% reduction in MRSA cases and an 18% drop in C.diff infections. This would bring annual figures to 880 for MRSA and 16,100 for C.diff .
According to the latest monthly statistics, published to show the best and worst-performing trusts in the country, for the first time since 2001, MRSA bloodstream infections across the NHS have been sustained at under 100 reported cases per month for the last six months.
There has been great progress in reducing MRSA bloodstream and C.difficile infections in some parts of the NHS, but we want everyone at the level of the best
MRSA numbers are continuing to decrease, with 86 bloodstream infections reported across the NHS in November 2011. On average, there is now less than one MRSA infection per primary care trust each month. And 35 NHS organisations had been free from MRSA bloodstream infections for the 12 months up to November 2011, according to data from the Health Protection Agency. This is more than double the 14 organisations who achieved this in May 2010 and just four trusts were free from MRSA in September 2006.Burns said: “There has been great progress in reducing MRSA bloodstream and C.difficile infections in some parts of the NHS, but we want everyone at the level of the best.
“This progress shows the impact that our drive for greater transparency and strict infection control measures can have to prevent avoidable infections and help provide a clean and safe environment for patients. But there is still more to do to before we have achieved our objective of zero tolerance for all avoidable healthcare associated infections and it is vital that we continue to reduce variation across the country.
“That is why we have set each trust their own objective – to drive further improvements, particularly in the organisations with the highest rates of infections.”
One of the organisations leading the way in reducing MRSA cases is West Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust, which reported no infections in 2011. The trust runs St Richard’s Hospital in Chichester, Southlands Hospital in Shoreham-by-Sea, and Worthing Hospital.
Sheila Loveridge, infection control nurse consultant, said the success was down to a zero-tolerance approach. She added: “The most important time is when somebody is coming up to a patient to do anything. That is the most important point when you have to think about hygiene and cleanliness.”
Chief executive, Marianne Griffiths, added: “To go for the whole of 2011 without any new MRSA cases speaks volumes for the standards of care at our hospitals.
“Of course we cannot possibly guarantee that this run will go on forever, but we always aim to have no cases and will continue to do so.”
there is still more to do to before we have achieved our objective of zero tolerance for all avoidable healthcare associated infections and it is vital that we continue to reduce variation across the country.
The news comes just days after the NHS in Scotland also revealed MRSA infection rates had dropped to a record low.
Figures from Health Protection Scotland show MRSA cases dropped by 7.7% to 48 between the second and third quarters of 2011. This represents a reduction of 80.7% on the first quarter of 2007.
However, the country has seen a slight increase in C.diff infections in patients over the age of 65, from 378 cases in the second quarter of 2011 to 387 between July and September. This figure still represents a reduction of 32% compared to the same period last year. For patients between the ages of 15 and 64, there was a 3.5% increase in C.diff cases; a 19.6% reduction on the same time the previous year.
Scottish Health Secretary, Nicola Sturgeon, said: “There have been further reductions in cases of MRSA in Scotland, achieving the lowest ever level since records began in 2005.
“We are absolutely determined to tackle healthcare associated infections and have already invested more than £50m over the past three years, but we need to maintain the pace of improvement to keep bringing the number of infections down.
"While there has been a small increase in C.diff cases, it is not statistically significant and the level is the third lowest since surveillance began in 2006. Significant reductions have been achieved in the last four years, with a 78.2% decrease in cases compared to the first quarter in 2007.”