‘GPs could help cut infections’ - trust chief

Alan Foster
Alan Foster

THE boss of a health trust has called for GPs to help towards greater community awareness of preventing infections after it emerged only a handful of recent cases were picked up in hospital.

Alan Foster, chief executive of North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, called for doctors to play a part in ensuring patients are more informed about warding off illnesses like MRSA and C-Difficile (C-Diff).

Trust bosses particularly want to see more done to encourage people to boost personal hygiene and make sure they wash their hands to stay germ-free.

It comes after 163 people were admitted to the University Hospitals of Hartlepool and North Tees carrying MRSA on their skin in December – but just five cases were picked up in the hospitals.

One person had MRSA bacteria in their blood, taking the trust over their target of one for the year.

Four hospital-acquired and nine community-acquired cases of C-Diff were also reported across the trust in December.

Four cases of hospital-acquired E.Coli were also reported in December, and 22 were picked up in the community.

Mr Foster told a meeting of the trust’s board of directors: “I don’t think GPs are doing enough out there.

“I don’t think enough general knowledge is forwarded to the general public and voluntary organisations, and general awareness across healthcare staff out there in the community.”

Sue Smith, the trust’s director of nursing, patient safety and quality, said a C-Diff seminar held last month had proved helpful.

She told the Mail: “I have to say our commissioners are very supportive of the work that we have been doing.”

She said commissioners, which include GPs, have supported the trust financially, offered infection control, offered cleaning to nursing homes and are helping to fund additional single hospital rooms to help reduce infections.

Ms Smith added: “We are trying to look at how we can influence things across the whole pathway.”

Trust chairman Paul Garvin said: “The problem with community acquired C-Diff and community acquired E.Coli is our personal hygiene is not good in terms of hand-washing.

“What is public health doing to promote hand-washing in schools etcetera?

“We fully accept responsibility for what happens with the trust and the work we do with community services.

“I think it’s a much broader approach that’s required.

“The real objective is to eradicate the incidents in the first place – we’ve got to go beyond the walls of the hospital and beyond our normal remit and keep pushing through the health and wellbeing boards.”

Trust non-executive director Stephen Hall, who is also a Hartlepool magistrate and a fellow of the Royal Institute of Public Health, said there is a big push to get more prominence and money spent in governing and advertising in raising the issues to help “intercept” infections in peoples’ homes and the community.