Hospital defends MRSA procedures

IPSWICH Hospital bosses today defended a decision to reduce the numbers of staff that are screened for MRSA.When the superbug first became a problem in the hospital in the mid-1990s staff who were in prolonged contact with a patient with MRSA were tested for the bug.

IPSWICH Hospital bosses today defended a decision to reduce the numbers of staff that are screened for MRSA.

When the superbug first became a problem in the hospital in the mid-1990s staff who were in prolonged contact with a patient with MRSA were tested for the bug.

If positive, they were then given antiseptic treatment.

Today, staff are only swabbed in a small number of serious of cases, where the risk of an outbreak is thought to be high, and more effort is focused on preventing the spread of the bacteria in the first place.

Hospital bosses say this is a far more effective way of keeping the bug at bay.

Jan Rowsell, hospital spokeswoman, said: "Our major problems with MRSA began in 1996 and over the next couple of years we did more staff screening where there were two or more cases of MRSA in one area.

Most Read

"But as it has grown in our hospital, and every other hospital in the country, we've found that all the evidence suggests that staff screening is less valuable.

"What is most important is changing nursing practices to make sure we are protecting patients and staff.

"We always urge all staff to take standard precautions, and make sure they follow all the guidance and policies about barrier nursing, such as the importance of using gloves, protective aprons and regular handwashing."

The Evening Star was alerted to the change in procedures by a staff nurse at the hospital, who wished to remain anonymous.

She said: "We used to be swabbed regularly when MRSA first became a problem in the hospital about ten years ago, but now it never seems to happen.

"If you tested positive you were given a course of treatment.

"I have not been swabbed for about eight years or so now and I probably come in to contact with patients with MRSA every day."

The nurse said she was not fearful for her own safety but thought more could be done to protect patients.

She said: "As long as I'm careful with washing my hands and things then I don't really think it will affect me.

"I do think there are still too many patients with MRSA in bays rather than side rooms though."

Ms Rowsell stressed that any staff who may have concerns are always able to visit the hospital's occupational health department for advice and reassurance.

Ipswich hospital's procedures for dealing with MRSA have been under the spotlight since two-day old Luke Day died after contracting the bug there in February.

On Thursday The Evening Star took baby Luke's parents, Glynis Day and Kevin Fenton, to the House of Commons to hand over letters to prime minister Tony Blair, Conservative leader Michael Howard and Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy, calling for action to combat MRSA.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter