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Hospital bugs 'neglected'

12th June 2009

The NHS across England is neglecting the threat posed by a number of healthcare-acquired infections.

MRSA1

While the NHS has had success in tackling superbugs such as MRSA and Clostridium difficile, the National Audit Office says it has not given enough attention to other infections not covered by government targets such as pneumonia and urinary tract infections.

The watchdog has highlighted the problem of MRSA and C diff in previous reports, leading to a cut in rates but warns they only account for 15% of cases of healthcare-acquired infections.

Of the rest, urinary tract infections largely associated with the use of catheters are responsible for 20% of these. Other bloodstream infections, bacteria such as E coli; lower respiratory tract infections, gastrointestinal, surgical site and skin and soft tissue infections are also an issue.

The NAO wants to see compulsory monitoring of healthcare-associated infections widened to cover more infections with checks conducted to ensure that antibiotics are being used effectively.

Report author Karen Taylor said: "It's looking better for MRSA and C difficile, which have been subject to targets, but the main focus of our report is they only account for about 15% of healthcare-associated infections in hospitals and in the rest of the infections there's very poor data.

"Some of the bloodstream infections are just as significant on the impact on the patient."

Health minister Ann Keen said the government remained "totally committed" to eliminating all preventable healthcare-associated infections, while the Care Quality Commission said they would "keep up the pressure" on trusts.

 

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