C-diff cases highest in east of England

THE number of superbug C-diff cases recorded in Suffolk is the highest in the east of England.

Kate McGrath

THE number of superbug C-diff cases recorded in Suffolk is the highest in the east of England.

Despite a dramatic fall in cases in the last year, the county's primary care trust, NHS Suffolk, still deals with 30% more outbreaks of the diarrhoea and vomiting bug than any other PCT in the region.

This year the trust has recorded 327 cases of C-diff (Clostridium difficile) with 43 cases in October. Cambridgeshire PCT was the next highest in the East of England, recording 252 this year.


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The figures published by the NHS East of England come just days after an inquest into the death of pensioner Daphne Fairweather found she died after contracting C-diff at Ipswich Hospital.

It is believed she was one of the first to die in a Suffolk hospital as a result of the infection.

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However, Andrew Hassan, medical director of NHS Suffolk, moved to reassure the public that deaths from the infection were very rare.

He said: “C-diff is an infection that is not very common.

“We're talking about numbers that are very low. It is very rare for people to die from C-diff.”

Dr Hassan added the numbers of C-diff cases in Suffolk this year are half the amount reported last year.

“Between April and September last year we were recording 75 to 95 cases every month. Now we see about 40, and I believe the figure for November is around 20.

“Each month these figures are getting lower and lower. If you look at the last three months you will see a consistent fall in cases. When the numbers peaked in June/July, we recognised a need to address the issue and launched an action plan, which has been very successful.

“I am confident we have the right systems in place to reduce the number of patients at risk.”

Some of the measures include a review of antibiotic prescribing, extra cleaning measures and a hand washing campaign.

Ipswich Hospital has recorded 104 cases this year and West Suffolk Hospital 44, which is below their target of 63. The other cases occurred in community hospitals and GP surgeries.

David Ruffley, MP for Bury St Edmunds, called for an immediate explanation.

He said: “I will be writing to Carole Taylor-Brown, chief executive of Suffolk PCT, today to ask why these figures are so out of line with other PCTs. It is completely unacceptable and we need an explanation immediately.

“This infection is something that can be contained. It is within the power of hospitals to crack down on it. Other PCTs and hospitals trusts have managed to do it and I do not see why Suffolk should be any different.

“I will be demanding answers.”

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