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More Action To Tackle C.Difficile As MRSA Numbers Fall

Armen Hareyan's picture


The Government's Chief Nursing Officer welcomed a further reduction in MRSA bloodstream infections and announced the latest in a raft of measures to drive down rates of C.difficile in hospitals.

Latest statistics from the Health Protection Agency (HPA) show a decrease of 6.7% in MRSA bacteraemia on the last published quarterly data, while C difficile infections for 2006 were 7.6% higher than 2005, a smaller increase than in the previous year.

Measures such as the MRSA target, improved surveillance and specialist Improvement Teams have helped hospitals to achieve significant improvements in MRSA rates. These measures will now be applied to C.difficile.

Chief Nursing Officer (CNO) Chris Beasley said; "The MRSA target has lead to improved clinical standards and the downward trend in MRSA numbers reflects this. However, even more work is necessary to step-up progress in the remaining year of this target.

Primary Care Trusts have also been asked to agree local targets for reduction C.difficile.

Highlighting the renewed focus on C.difficile.

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CNO continued; "We are determined to build on this progress. Many Trusts that have received help from MRSA Improvement Teams have seen significant reduction in infection. We are determined to see these national reductions replicated for C.difficile."

The NHS has welcomed the MRSA Improvement Teams model, which will be expanded to increase the impact on C.difficile infections. They received support to develop an action plan to reduce infection rates, which explores the systems and processes used at the trust. Over the last year Trusts that received MRSA improvement teams have made between 16% and 34% reduction in numbers of MRSA bacteraemia.

Speaking of his experience of working with a DH improvement team, Jim Mackey, Chief Executive, Northumbria NHS Foundation Trust said "The action plan was thorough, considered and highly practical for our needs. The team were professional and well informed. My trust now has a clear strategy to make sustainable reductions in infection rates and I am confident about our improvement."

Janet Shepherd, Director of Infection Prevention and Control, Kingston Hospitals NHS Trust said: 'Our rates have come down and our governance and accountability for infection rates has significantly improved. We are now able to articulate our HCAI work and have a clear strategic plan for improvement and sustainability. The general awareness across the organisation of infection control has also improved as a by-product of the review.'

To further aid progress, an enhanced, web based system for monitoring C.difficile. was launched earlier this month. This will enable trusts and PCTs to monitor progress on local C. difficile targets and to identify and focus on 'infection hotspots' in the future.

The new system, modelled on the MRSA data collection system, will provide an improved national picture on the incidence of C. difficile associated diarrhoea by collecting data on nearly all cases rather than just those over 65.

There was further confirmation that infection control measures are being taken on board by the NHS, by an evaluation of the National Patient Safety Agency's ongoing Cleanyourhands campaign (implemented by all English and Welsh Acute Trusts). The evaluation showed that hand hygiene is a priority for most organisations and has been effective in changing many aspects of hand hygiene behaviour in staff. It concluded that use of soap and hand gels had significantly increased, as did the number of times staff cleaned their hands after implementation of the campaign.

However, increased accountability is still needed from Board to Ward to ensure reliable safe and clean care is given to every patient.