Hospital winning superbug battle

IPSWICH Hospital is winning the war on superbugs today, but in the community the battle is faltering.

IPSWICH Hospital is winning the war on superbugs today, but in the community the battle is faltering.

The hospital has completed a remarkable turnaround in 2008/09 to be one of the best performing hospitals in the east for infection control.

But in the county's community healthcare infections such as Clostridium Difficile (C-diff) remain rife, with more than double the number of cases of the potentially killer bug than planned for.

It meant NHS Suffolk had the highest number of C-diff cases of any primary care trust in the East.

Today Gwen Collins, Ipswich Hospital's director of infection prevention and control, said she was delighted at the hospital's success in tackling both C-diff and MRSA.

The achievement was despite a C-diff outbreak in Grundisburgh Ward in June, a notice to improve from the Healthcare Commission over a breach of the hygiene code in February and a visit from the Health Protection Agency after the hospital struggled to control C-diff over the summer.

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Ms Collins said: “It is fantastic. It is probably the best feeling we've had all year.

“Our staff were so frightened and upset about the outbreak that they went into complete overdrive.

“It is thanks to months and months of hard work that we've come so far.”

She said the progress had been achieved thanks to a policy of screening all elective patients for infections, a tough hand-washing regime and a crack-down on errant antibiotic prescribing.

The progress has also helped the hospital financially, with each case costing around �10,000.

But the hospital's success has not be reflected in the wider community, with NHS Suffolk failing to hit its target despite a major drive earlier this year to crack down on the problem.

Sara Fletcher, infection control lead at NHS Suffolk, said: “We are continuing to focus on a comprehensive antibiotic campaign and we are investigating each individual case of C-diff.

“We have seen four consecutive months of significant reductions in community cases of C-diff, laying good foundations for the year ahead.”

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

130: The number of C-diff cases at Ipswich Hospital in 2008/09

174: The target for the maximum number of C-diff cases at Ipswich Hospital in 2008/09

8: The number of MRSA cases at Ipswich Hospital in 2008/09

18: The target for the maximum number of MRSA cases at Ipswich Hospital in 2008/09

240: The number of C-diff cases in the NHS Suffolk community healthcare area in 2008/09 (figures to end of January)

112: The target for the maximum number of C-diff cases in the NHS Suffolk community healthcare area in 2008/09 (figures to end of January)

�10,000: the average cost of a C-diff case to Ipswich Hospital

8: The number of patients who developed C-diff in Grundisburgh Ward, leading to the ward being closed to new admissions