Hospital shocked by C-Diff figures

HEALTH chiefs are investigating today after unexpectedly high numbers of people developed a potentially fatal superbug.

HEALTH chiefs are investigating today after unexpectedly high numbers of people developed a potentially fatal superbug.

Both Ipswich Hospital and NHS Suffolk, the county's primary care trust, failed to bring down the number of cases of the infection Clostridium difficlie (C-diff), and in response to the problem the Health Protection Agency has been asked to intervene.

A report due to go before Ipswich Hospital's board on Thursday shows there were 21 cases of C-diff developed in the hospital in August, 13 more than its target.

The report suggests “a suspected outbreak (of C-diff) in the community resulting in an increase in the number of admissions with diarrhoea” could be behind the rise.

However Jonathan Williams, NHS Suffolk's chief nurse, said there was no outbreak despite the organisation recording 204 cases throughout Suffolk in the first four months of the financial year, much higher than its target of 136.

Gwen Collins, Ipswich Hospital's director of infection prevention and control, said: “The staff are devastated by it. It is difficult, particularly when we can't put our finger on the reason why.

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“We've asked Dr Mark Reacher (of the Health Protection Agency) to come in and help us. We're looking at every single case and that takes time. I'm confident the figures will be significantly better for September.”

Meanwhile Mr Williams said numerous health organisations were working together to tackle the problem, including attempting to reduce the prescribing of antibiotics where not necessary.

He said: “There's no evidence of an outbreak and people must not be worried. With C-diff we work across the East of England setting ourselves really challenging targets. Last year we did amazingly well to conquer MRSA in the way we did.

“We've obviously not been successful in the last few months. We just know that we've got more positive cases and we don't know why.”

Does more need to be done to tackle infections at Ipswich Hospital and in the community? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

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