Winning war on killer bug

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TWO hospitals went 12 months without an outbreak of a deadly bacteria for the first time in a health trust’s history.

There were no cases of MRSA at the University Hospital of Hartlepool or University of North Tees, in Stockton, for 2011/12.

But there were 68 incidents of people falling ill with the Clostridium Difficile (C Diff) bug – nine higher than the tolerance target set by health chiefs.

Bosses at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust say they are getting on top of the organism that causes diarrhoea and there were no cases reported for April.

The matter was discussed at a board meeting of the Trust as an annual report on infection prevention and control was released.

Paul Garvin, chairman of the Trust, said: “I think it’s really good we have now come to expect there to be no MRSA in the Trust.

“More importantly, after all the pressures we have had in relation to C Diff, to go over a month without one is really commendable.

“We acknowledge the work the staff have done to deliver on this.”

There were 28 cases of MRSA, a bacteria that can lead to a range of infections and is resistant to a number of antibiotics, in 2007/08.

That gradually fell to four for 2010/11 and there were no cases in the last year.

C Diff can cause severe swelling of the bowel and can be life-threatening.

There were 210 cases of C Diff in 2007/08, which fell to 53 for 2010/11 before rising again in the last 12 months to 68.

Infections usually happen in vulnerable patients when antibiotics are taken, and Trust staff say alternative treatments to antibiotics are now sought when the risk is high.

Sue Smith, Trust director of nursing and patient safety, said in the report: “We know that, to tackle the spread of infection effectively everyone needs to appreciate that they have a contribution to make.

“Whether it is in patients’ homes, in community facilities or in our hospitals, everyone needs to play their part.”