New weapon to fight superbug

AN anti-superbug isolation ward was due to open at Ipswich Hospital today to try to the number of patients falling ill with the bugs.The new ward is the hospital's biggest commitment so far to cutting down on infections like Clostridium Difficile (C-diff) which are blighting the wards.

AN anti-superbug isolation ward was due to open at Ipswich Hospital today to try to cut the number of patients falling ill with the bugs.

The new ward is the hospital's biggest commitment so far to cutting down on infections like Clostridium Difficile (C-diff) which are blighting the wards.

Staff have already reduced visiting hours, started a deep-cleaning programme and launched a major hand-washing campaign after failing to meet government targets for reducing C-diff.

The 21-bed ward, opening at the hospital's Framlingham Ward near the maternity unit, will initially be used for C-diff patients.


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There were 38 cases of C-diff in August against a target of 26 and last month a ward had to be partially closed after six people contracted the bug, which causes severe vomiting and diarrhoea.

The new ward will have high levels of staff, stepped-up cleaning standards and more checks will be carried out by pharmacists - as wrongly prescribing too many or too less antibiotics can cause the infection.

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The ward has been deep-cleaned before patients are moved in today. Visiting is severely restricted, and many of the beds are in single rooms and have en-suite facilities.

Gwen Collins, director of infection prevention and control, said: “In September we recorded 26 patients who had contracted c-diff, which although is the lowest number we have recorded for quite some time, is still 26 too many.

“It is a difficult and distressing infection and I hope that we will significantly reduce the numbers of patients contracting it while in hospital because of the steps we are taking.

“There are some tough challenges for us in getting where we want to be, which is infection free, but the public deserve no less than this.”

The new ward is part of a bigger project launched after the hospital got £300,000 to crackdown on infections by the East of England Strategic Health Authority.

Other changes include:

More staff and an increase in cleaning on busy acute medical wards.

Extra pharmacy support across the hospital.

The opening a decontamination area decontaminating equipment.

Allowing senior infection control nurses to spend more time educating people by having an analyst to track and report infections.

Reducing the number of beds in each bay in two acute medical wards from six to four.

A hospital spokesman said: “For the first few weeks we will feel the pressure of taking beds out but it will reduce the spread of infection and ultimately it will reduce the time people spend in hospital, as if people are treated appropriately and quicker, they will make a quicker recovery.”

In May the hospital reduced visiting times to two hours a day in a bid to stop the spread of infections and in July it started a 20-ward programme of deep cleaning and upgrading equipment.

Gary Miller, chairman of the Ipswich Hospital User Group, will formally open the ward on Monday but patients are being moved in from today.

The clinical investigation unit previously based at Framlingham Ward is moving to Woodbridge Ward.

Is enough being done to crackdown on infections at Suffolk's hospitals? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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