DoH 'encouraged' by hospital superbug figures

Health: MRSA rates fall, C.dif up
Health: MRSA rates fall, C.dif up

The health secretary has welcomed the latest figures on 'superbug' infections, describing them as "encouraging".

Data published today by the Health Protection Agency (HPA) show the number of MRSA infections has fallen while the recent rise in cases of C.difficile may have peaked.

Health Protection Agency figures show a steady decrease in cases of MRSA in the past year.

Between April 2006 and March 2007, 6,381 cases were detected, a ten per cent fall on the year before.

Quarterly figures show this fall was sustained, with a ten per cent drop over the last quarter. There were 1,303 reported cases from April to June, compared to 1,447 in the beginning of year.

Incidents of C.difficile have continued to rise but at a lower rate than before. Reported cases in patients over 65 were still, however, up seven per cent.

The last quarter did see a fall in infections, down 13 per cent to 13,660 cases.

Professor Pete Borriello, director of the Centre for Infections, said: "Some NHS Trusts have made a significant impact on their MRSA infection rates, against a backdrop of increasing workloads.

"However, more work needs to be done to see the same level of decrease with C. difficile and we are encouraging trusts to use the figures to raise the profile of local infection control practices and make changes where the results indicate this may be necessary."

He added: "Rates are not the same across the country with some hospitals doing an outstanding job whilst others have much to do."

Alan Johnson said the Department of Health (DoH) was committed to tackling hospital superbugs, pointing to recent efforts such as a £50 million drive against infections, more matrons, new guidance on hand washing and the establishment of Care Quality Commission.

The Liberal Democrats, however, said more had to be done on superbugs and warned the government against complacency.

Health spokesman Norman Lamb: "The government is way off its target of halving the rate of MRSA infection by next year, and the general trend of C diff cases over the last few years has been upwards.

"One-off deep cleans will not guarantee a hospital culture where hygiene is a top priority. The government must tackle the hospital overcrowding which hampers efforts to keep wards infection free.


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