Hartlepool and Stockton hospitals fail to hit superbug targets

Alan Foster
Alan Foster

HEALTH bosses say they will do everything in their power to stamp out a superbug after missing their target for the year.

The North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust had 61 cases of Clostridium defficile (C-Diff) in 2012-13 against its target of no more than 44 cases for the year.

The trust says it is committed to reducing hospital acquired infections and will “do everything humanly possible” to protect patients from infection.

Alan Foster, chief executive of the trust, told the last board meeting that they had seen a steady reduction in C-Diff cases over the last five years and said they would do everything they could to hit next year’s target of no more than 40 cases.

There were five cases during May so far.

Mr Foster said: “It’s our most challenging target. Thankfully, our figures have improved and even though we have breached the target we are getting better year on year.

“We are starting to see some benefits from lots of policy changes with regards to testing.

“We are certainly going in the right direction, albeit we would like it to be quicker.

“We have just got to keep working to improve. We will do everything we can to hit the target even though we know it is much more challenging this year.”

C-Diff is an organism that causes diarrhoea after vulnerable patients have been given antibiotics. The disease can cause life-threatening complications including severe inflammation of the bowel.

Last year’s total of 61 was a reduction on 2011-12 when there were 68 cases within the trust and 136 in 2009-10.

A review carried out into C-Diff by the trust in January found it tested more patients for the bug than several other larger trusts in the North- East which might have had an effect on the umber of cases reported.

It added the majority of patients are aged 75 or over and therefore more at risk and they had a high bed occupancy also adding to the risk of infection.

In a report, Sue Smith, director of infection prevention and control, said: “We would like to assure patients that we are absolutely committed to reducing opportunity for infection and we will not rest until we’re the best in terms of tackling infection.”

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