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MRSA hit squad urgency

16th March 2006

17032006_corridor.jpgThe BBC said it had learned that health officials have not decided which trusts are to be visited by MRSA "hit squads" a month after the move was announced.

In February Ministers said the superbug teams would be sent into the 20 trusts with the biggest MRSA challenges, however only three have begun work. These were in Sandwell, Northumbria and Aintree, which had volunteered for help.

The Department of Health said it always planned to allocate the teams over the coming months and denied undue delays. They have been accused of lethargy by opposition politicians.

The Health Minister Jane Kennedy announced the deployment of specialist teams in early February, after new figures revealed a rise in the number of MRSA infections. Half of trusts were not meeting their MRSA targets.

The Department of Health says it is in the process of setting up five specialist teams, but they will not be able to go in to all 20 trusts simultaneously; The list of trusts to be targeted was not yet finalised, the next wave would only be decided once the teams were ready.

The department said it was also legislating to put a hygiene code and a tougher inspection regime into law with sanctions for trusts that failed to deliver.

Opposition spokesmen have emphasised that urgent action is required.

The nurse adviser for acute and emergency care at the Royal College of Nursing, Mike Hayward, expressed concern that there had been reports of infection control nursing posts being frozen in some trusts. He also said that other measures such as providing nurses with laundry facilities in hospital so they could wash their uniforms at the very high temperatures required to kill infections should be put into action.

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