News | December 18, 2007

British Department of Health Report Shows Fight Against MRSA is Working

December 19, 2007 - A report examining the variation in rates of MRSA between different British hospitals between 2001 and 2006 and looking at the factors which have contributed to a 27 percent fall in the probability that a patient will acquire MRSA since 2001, was published yesterday by the Department of Health.

The report, “Hospital organization, specialty mix and MRSA,” shows while high bed occupancy and greater use of temporary nursing staff correlated with higher MRSA rates up to 2003-04, in recent years these relationships have weakened and are not statistically significant. This is consistent with the view that health trusts have become better at responding to these challenges.

It suggests that action the government took over the last three years such as the introduction of the MRSA target, the clean your hands campaign, intensive support to trusts facing the biggest challenges, and improving the quality and training of temporary staff, may have played a role in bringing down MRSA infection rates.

“We have given the National Health Service comprehensive guidance on infection control and this report is consistent with our interventions and support beginning to bear fruit,” said Health Minister Ann Keen. “Infections pose a challenge for health services around the world, including the NHS. We continue to reduce rates of infection while more and more patients are treated each year, but I want all hospitals to achieve the standards attained by the best.”

Health Protection Agency (HPA) data published in November showed a 10 percent fall in cases of MRSA in England from the previous quarter, from 1,447 between January 2007 to March 2007 to 1,303 between April 2007 and June 2007.

The clean your hands campaign was launched by the National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA) in September 2004 and appears to have been instrumental in raising awareness.

In December 2003 a national requirement was made to ensure that infection control teams work with bed managers to optimize bed use, while implementing procedures to minimize the risk of infection.

In November Health Secretary Alan Johnson announced detailed regional funding for deep cleaning and confirmed that all NHS hospitals in England will be expected to have carried out a deep cleaning by March 2008.

For more information: www.dh.gov.uk

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