Hospital hits back at MRSA claims

HEALTH bosses have hit back at claims MRSA is rampant at an Essex hospital, saying the allegations are “simple scaremongering”.Colchester General Hospital's outburst comes after it found itself at the centre of an expose in a national newspaper which sent in an undercover reporter to gather swabs, which were later tested for the superbug.

HEALTH bosses have hit back at claims MRSA is rampant at an Essex hospital, saying the allegations are “simple scaremongering”.

Colchester General Hospital's outburst comes after it found itself at the centre of an expose in a national newspaper which sent in an undercover reporter to gather swabs, which were later tested for the superbug.

The results claimed to show traces of MRSA on doors, lifts, in the men's toilets and on a door handle at the entrance to one of the wards.

The accusations led to specialized hospital staff carrying out their own checks for MRSA in the same areas said to be affected and yesterday it was confirmed “absolutely no traces” had been found.


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The hospital added no any extra cleaning took place before its tests, in an attempt to ensure results were as realistic as possible.

The man in charge of disease control at the hospital said he always felt the claims had little foundation, but The Sun newspaper last night said it was standing by its story.

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When the story first broke staff the hospital questioned the validity of the newspaper's tests because, it claimed, the company which analysed the swabs also sells anti-MRSA kits.

Hospital microbiologist and infection control consultant Dr Tony Elston said: “I was always surprised and doubtful of the claims made by The Sun.

“Our own trained and highly experienced staff carried out a number of stringent tests and did not find any traces of MRSA in any of our public areas.

“We are confident our results are accurate, which I believe calls into question the validity of the tests carried out by The Sun.

“I think the story was simple scaremongering with very little foundation.”

He added the hospital screened all high-risk patients for MRSA when they came in for operations as well as those who had been in other hospitals, although routine emergency patients are not screened.

But a spokeswoman for the Sun said: “We stand by the findings of our investigation and story.”

Essex Rivers Healthcare NHS Trust, which runs the hospital, has introduced various measures to crackdown on the superbug, including giving all staff alcohol gel dispensers to clean their hands, and placing dispensers at the end of each of the 680 beds.

Dr Elston, who spends about half his time dealing with infection control, said he thought about 10 patients at any one time would be carrying MRSA and given special treatment considerations.

MRSA is a strain of a very common bacterium called staphylococcus aureus which causes deep abscesses, blood infections and infected wounds.

It has become resistant to methicillin, the antibiotic most used against it.

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