MRSA numbers fall in Ipswich

FIGURES which show an apparent decline in the number of MRSA cases at hospitals in the region have today been greeted with caution.Data produced by the Health Protection Agency shows that MRSA rates at Ipswich Hospital declined between April and September last year, while at West Suffolk the figures remained steady.

FIGURES which show an apparent decline in the number of MRSA cases at hospitals in the region have today been greeted with caution.

Data produced by the Health Protection Agency shows that MRSA rates at Ipswich Hospital declined between April and September last year, while at West Suffolk the figures remained steady.

However, the figures are still higher than for the same period in 2003.

The figures show the number of cases of MRSA blood-stream infection at Ipswich Hospital fell from 31 between October 2003 to March 2004 to 23 between April and September 2004.

However, in April to September 2003 there were only 21 cases.

At the West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds the number of cases diagnosed between April and September 2004 was 23, but in the same period in 2003 it was only 14.

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Richard Spring, West Suffolk MP, said: "This is dreadful and the measurement of the statistics leaves something to be desired. It is very, very worrying and people write to me all the time about it.

"There are many countries in Europe that have no bugs at all and ours have just grown and grown. It is still a massive problem - even if it has stabilised, it is still at a high level."

The Health Protection Agency's figures - which only take into account infections where MRSA bacteraemia are found in a blood sample, not all MRSA infections - also revealed that two hospital trusts in the region were ranked among the worst in the country over the period April-September last year.

James Paget Healthcare Trust in Gorleston was ranked second from the bottom out of the country's general acute NHS trusts, while Addenbrooke's in Cambridge was fourth from the bottom on the national list of specialist trusts.

Hospital staff say there is a lot more work to be done to bring the infection under control.

Gwen Collins, director of nursing at Ipswich Hospital, said: "We are very pleased with the falling rate of MRSA at our hospital, but recognise that we still have a way to go. This achievement is down to the dedication of staff."

A spokesman for West Suffolk Hospitals Trust said its latest data for September to December 2004 showed there had been only eight cases of the bug.

He said: "We are pleased to see in the most recent quarter's figures a reduction in the number of cases of MRSA and we are sure increased training, hygiene procedures and general vigilance is playing a big part in that.

"However, the fight goes on and we do not relax. We continue to bring in new measures to make people even more aware of maintaining hygiene levels."

Nationally, the figures showed that from April to September last year 3,519 NHS patients in England were infected with MRSA, compared with 3,940 in the previous six months and 3,598 in the same period of 2001.

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