Hospitals

THE region's hospitals are among the worst in the country for cases of the killer bug MRSA, it can be revealed today.New Department of Health figures show that the region's major hospital trusts – Ipswich, West Suffolk and James Paget – are all in the bottom 42 of the MRSA table.

THE region's hospitals are among the worst in the country for cases of the killer bug MRSA, it can be revealed today.

New Department of Health figures show that the region's major hospital trusts – Ipswich, West Suffolk and James Paget – are all in the bottom 42 of the MRSA table.

Richard Spring, Conservative MP for West Suffolk, said last night: "We already have a huge crisis of confidence in the NHS in Suffolk - many people are now terrified to go into hospital and the matter has to be resolved.

"The area where patients are must be ruthlessly cleaned and anywhere where there are traces of this infection must be isolated. That's it."


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The figures, for the period from April 2004 to March 2005, are ranked by MRSA rates per 1,000 hospital bed days, with a bed day defined as one person in hospital for one night.

And, of the country's 173 trusts, the James Paget Healthcare NHS Trust is ranked 165th, with 20 more MRSA cases in the last year – a jump from 30 to 50 – and a rate of 0.290.

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West Suffolk Hospitals NHS Trust saw a rise in MRSA cases from 37 to 43 and is ranked 136th in the country, with a rate of 0.206.

Ipswich Hospital faced an MRSA case almost every week with 51 recorded – the most in the region – although that figure fell by one from 2003-4.

However, the hospital still fared badly in comparison to others around the country and finished 131st in the MRSA rankings with a rate of 0.201.

Elsewhere, the Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trusts – which includes Addenbrooke's Hospital – came 172nd on the list, with 123 cases and a rate of 0.361.

Ipswich Hospital hit the headlines earlier this year when the EADT revealed that baby Luke Day died from MRSA there just 36 hours after he was born.

In the wake of Luke's death, the EADT launched our Stamp It Out campaign, urging hospital chiefs to take steps to eradicate the bug, and we have since gathered more than 3,000 signatures in support.

Last night Julie Fenton, Luke's paternal grandmother, said of the regional figures: "My first reaction is that I'm not really surprised.

"It's scary and it's alarming – hopefully this will shame them into doing something. The whole target system seems to put huge pressure on hospitals."

Jan Rowsell, a spokeswoman for Ipswich Hospital, stressed the facility took the fight against MRSA very seriously.

She added: "We're continually taking action to limit the risk of infections to patients and are very pleased with the response from our community, who are all using the hand washes before entering or leaving the wards.

"In the last year we've introduced several changes in our fight against MRSA.

"It's something that we're taking very seriously indeed. We will continue to do all we can to bring down infection rates."

The James Paget Hospital, in Gorleston, near Lowestoft, has also introduced a crackdown on the killer bug, with a range of new measures being implemented as part of a wide-ranging action plan.

David Hill, chief executive, said: "Our trust board take this matter very seriously and we have set a target of having a 60% reduction in cases by 2008.

"We will achieve this through a number of strict infection control measures we have put in place based on a 70-point action plan, the implementation of which will be monitored directly by the board."

A spokeswoman for West Suffolk Hospitals NHS Trust, in Bury St Edmunds, said: "If you break down the last 12 months – the Trust reports bacteraemia rates quarterly – you can see that there is a downward trend in our MRSA bacteraemia rates.

"That trend has continued in the last few months with seven cases of MRSA reported between April 2005 to date.

"The figures do not distinguish between patients who have acquired MRSA at the hospital and those who bring it in to hospital from other hospitals, nursing homes, and the community.

"However, we are not complacent. We have put in place a number of initiatives this year to tackle MRSA."

Nationally, the number of MRSA cases fell by 6.1% in 2004-5 compared with 2003/04 – a drop of 472 cases to 7,212.

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