Superbug on the rise again

MRSA rates at Ipswich Hospital are among the highest in the East of England, new figures reveal today.Cases of the superbug have risen significantly since last year and a team of experts from the Department of Health are to be called in to review the situation.

MRSA rates at Ipswich Hospital are among the highest in the East of England, new figures reveal today.

Cases of the superbug have risen significantly since last year and a team of experts from the Department of Health are to be called in to review the situation.

Between April and July this year there were 19 cases of MRSA blood-stream infections (the most serious kind) compared to 15 in the same period in 2005.

The only hospital trust in the East of England (Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire) which recorded more cases was the Cambridge University Hospitals Foundation Trust which had 33 cases across its three hospitals.


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Jan Rowsell, spokeswoman for Ipswich Hospital, said: “Controlling infection and reducing MRSA to the absolute minimum is a very high priority for this trust.

“We had a blip in May and June but latest figures show that the numbers are beginning to come down again.”

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A number of initiatives have been launched by the hospital in its bid to stop the spread of the bug, including MRSA-free wards, where people are screened before they go in, a high-profile hand-washing campaign and the distribution of information leaflets about the infection.

However, the hospital now looks unlikely to meet its target of no more than 32 cases of blood-stream MRSA by the end of March 2007.

Among with the four other worst performers, it has been forced to submit a recovery plan to the Strategic Health Authority (SHA) outlining how they plan to bring the figures down and will also be subjected to an “improvement review” by the Department of Health's Intensive Support team.

Ms Rowsell said: “We know we have to do more, more quickly and we have invited the team in so that we can benefit from their expertise.

“They will spend two days at the hospital looking at all of our procedures and talking to key colleagues throughout the trust.”

The team are expected to visit in early Autumn.

ON February 3, 2005, Luke Day died of MRSA only two days after he was born at Ipswich Hospital, and was believed to be the UK's youngest victim of the superbug. It was later revealed that MRSA may not have been the cause of his death.

Following his death the hospital pledged to reduce MRSA infections and introduced a raft of new measures including the creation of MRSA-free wards where patients who are coming in for planned orthopaedic operations, such as hip replacements, are screened for the bug before they are admitted.

Alcoholic hand gel was placed by every bed and at the entrance to every ward, and throughout last year the hospital ran a high-profile Clean Your Hands campaign to reinforce the infection control message to staff and patients.

Things appeared to have improved in July last year when figures showed the hospital had made good progress at reducing rates of MRSA in the blood-stream.

The latest news shows that, despite all the efforts, incidences of the bug are not decreasing and the hospital is one of the worst in the region.

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