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Scottish hospitals to screen for MRSA

9th April 2009

Patients who undergo treatment or surgery at hospitals across Scotland are to be screened for superbugs.

MRSA1

The screening programme is set to be rolled out nationally over the next 12 months following a £3.7m pilot programme at three Scottish health boards.

The screening will focus on groups considered most at risk, including the elderly and people admitted for kidney disease, skin problems and vascular surgery.

However, patients not to be screened will be psychiatric, obstetric and paediatric patients.

Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said: “Screening allows us to reduce the number of people admitted to hospital with MRSA, minimising the risk of infections spreading.”

The announcement comes as figures show falls in superbug cases in Scottish hospitals.

In the last quarter of 2008 there were 1,299 cases of Clostridium difficile, down 9% on the previous quarter and down 19% on the same period in 2007.

There were 157 MRSA cases, up 7% on the previous quarter but down 24% on the same quarter in 2007.

However, there remain concerns over the screening with an interim report from Health Protection Scotland (HPS) saying it was not yet known if universal MRSA screening was clinically or cost effective.

Since last June, patients have been routinely tested for MRSA in the pilot areas of Ayrshire and Arran, Western Isles and Grampian health board areas.

Ms Sturgeon said efforts to reduce the incidence of hospital superbugs were working.

However, Liberal Democrat health spokesman Ross Finnie criticised Ms Sturgeon for announcing the screening programme, despite HPS concerns.

 

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