Blair pledges MRSA controls

PRIME Minister Tony Blair today pledged that stricter controls would be introduced in hospitals to combat the killer superbug MRSA which killed Suffolk baby Luke Day.

PRIME Minister Tony Blair today pledged that stricter controls would be introduced in hospitals to combat the killer superbug MRSA which killed Suffolk baby Luke Day.

"It is a real priority for us, but it is important that people realise the facts surrounding this kind of hospital infection.

"There have always been infections in hospitals, but it was only in the early 1990s that this particular strain of resistance became clear.

"Countries that recognised this straight away and took tough action against managed to eliminate about 90 per cent of infections.


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"But in Britain there were no figures until we came into power – and since then we have been catching up but it isn't an easy battle to win."

Mr Blair knew about Luke's tragedy: "I have written to the family and I will say again that have have great sympathy for them and I can appreciate their concerns about MRSA.

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"We are taking further steps to improve hospital conditions – including introducing matrons.

"But I am concerned that too much of the talk about health in this election campaign is addressed solely at the issue of MRSA.

"It is still fairly rare for people to become seriously ill in hospital, on average only one child a year dies from MRSA in this country.

"It would be very sad if people refused to go into hospital because of the fears that have been stirred up."

Luke's paternal grandmother, Julie Fenton, of Bilney Road, Woodbridge, said: "It's nice that Mr Blair has taken that personal interest and that our letter was not just another letter from another person.

"We are really glad that he has taken that on board personally.

"With all the publicity, it's been on the agenda of all the political parties. We wanted to take it to the top and we have done.

"What we feel most strongly about is that MRSA must be recorded on death certificates."

And Mr Blair's attack on Conservative attempts to use MRSA as an election issue were backed up by a Suffolk hospital cleaner at her union conference.

Speaking at UNISON's health conference in Plymouth, Gill Robertson a hospital cleaner at West Suffolk Hospital, refered to Mr Howard's visit to hospital yesterday when he failed to clean his hands between meeting patients.

She said: "How can you trust a man who lectures and hectors hospital cleaners and then doesn't even wash his own hands between patients when he's shaking hands? 

"And he clearly hasn't got a clue about MRSA if he thinks it's OK to wash his hands and then sit on a patient's bed.  Vote for him - you must be joking."

See page 25 for Blair's election latest.

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