UK MRSA Infections Cut By Half

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

Health Secretary Alan Johnson has paid tribute to NHS staff for their significant success in going beyond the Government's target of halving MRSA blood stream infections across England.

The latest quarterly figures on MRSA bloodstream infections, published by the Health Protection Agency today, show that the number of MRSA infections has fallen by 57% compared to the base level in 2003/4 when the target was set.

The figures show that the risk of becoming infected with an MRSA bacteraemia is at its lowest for 5 years. This has been achieved by a package of measures including higher standards of clinical practice and cleanliness, an increase in matrons and hospital deep cleans.

Alan Johnson said: "Our strategy for tackling infection is clearly delivering results and the NHS continues to work hard to ensure hospitals are clean and safe for patients. But we are certainly not complacent and we won't stop here. Healthcare associated infections present a huge challenge to health services across the world and we will continue to do all we can to tackle them.

"Hand hygiene, high standards of cleanliness, bare below the elbows, deep clean of hospitals and screening patients for MRSA are all vital elements of our strategy, so too is sensible use of antibiotics. But now we are stepping up a level and looking increasingly towards technology and design to play its part in the fight against infection which is why I am delighted to be launching the 'Showcase Hospital' scheme.


"There were those who said our MRSA target was completely unachievable and it was certainly very challenging. But it is the tremendous efforts of NHS staff that has achieved this significant reduction, resulting in real improvements to patient care."

Alan Johnson spoke whilst meeting infection control nurses and other staff at one of the new 'Showcase Hospitals', Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust in London. Run by the NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency, the Showcase Hospitals scheme consists of seven hospitals that will trial new and innovative products to further reduce and prevent healthcare associated infections.

The seven new showcase hospitals are just one way that will enable the NHS to sustain the reduction in MRSA infections. The NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency are also launching the Design Bugs Out project. Top designers have been challenged to design new furniture, equipment and services for hospital wards that will enhance cleanliness and help to reduce healthcare associated infections.

Paul Cryer, Programme Manager of the HCAI Technology Innovation Programme, which runs the Showcase Hospitals said;

"We know that the basic ways of preventing and reducing HCAIs are largely unchanging, with measures such as remorseless hand washing making a huge difference. But new technologies and equipment can help us tackle things better and so help to reduce HCAIs more quickly.

"The HCAI Technology Innovation Programme, funded by the Department of Health, aims to speed up the development and introduction of technologies to help combat infections and improve cleanliness."

The Government will now work with the NHS to sustain this reduction in MRSA infections, as well as delivering a 30% reduction in C. difficile in the next three years. The Department of Health is investing ?270 million per year by 2010/11 in improving infection prevention and control - this includes stringent hand-washing guidance for the NHS, clear guidance on appropriate antibiotic prescribing and the clinical care of patients with healthcare associated infections.