Shock over MRSA figures

By Rebecca SheppardIN JUST three months there were 80 confirmed cases of the superbug MRSA in the region's hospitals, a report reveals.The figures were released as hospital bosses admitted the trusts in the area still have some of the highest levels of MRSA nationally, despite many of them being on track to reduce the number of cases over the year.

By Rebecca Sheppard

IN JUST three months there were 80 confirmed cases of the superbug MRSA in the region's hospitals, a report reveals.

The figures were released as hospital bosses admitted the trusts in the area still have some of the highest levels of MRSA nationally, despite many of them being on track to reduce the number of cases over the year.

Last night the grandmother of baby MRSA victim Luke Day said she was "sceptical" about the figures for Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire hospitals and warned there could be many more people with the infection that have gone untested.


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A report to be considered at a board meeting of the Strategic Health Authority (SHA) showed there were 80 positive blood cultures in the three counties' hospitals between April and June 2005.

The James Paget Hospital, in Gorleston, was flagged up as it may exceed its annual target of 24 MRSA cases after having 10 in the three months. Ipswich Hospital, which has a target of 42 cases this year, had eight positive MRSA blood tests in the same period.

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West Suffolk Hospital had nine cases, putting it on track to achieve its annual objective of 37 cases.

In the report, Steve Clarke, director of performance and finance at the Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire SHA, said: "National data for June 2005 shows NSC trusts still have some of the highest levels of MRSA nationally.

"For example, Cambridge University Hospital has the second highest in the specialist category of acute hospitals and the fourth highest of all trusts.

"With performance to date this year most trusts are on target to meet their planned annual target of reducing MRSA."

A spokeswoman for the SHA said: "We are working with them and supporting their actions to maximise opportunities to combat the spread of MRSA."

Julie Fenton, paternal grandmother of Luke Day, who died at Ipswich Hospital from septicaemia caused by methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) when he was only two days old, said: "I question whether these are true figures. There could be people that have not been tested and have got it.

"I am sceptical about the collation of figures. Hopefully the numbers have come down. I want the hospitals safe for everybody. One case is one too many."

Meanwhile, a spot check of cleanliness at West Suffolk Hospital has led to conditions being assessed as "good".

The unannounced inspection of the Bury St Edmunds hospital was carried out by the government body responsible for issuing the annual performance star ratings.

Two assessment managers from the Healthcare Commission looked at four areas in the hospital and spoke to patients and staff, including cleaners.

The surgical adult ward was awarded 88%, a medical adult ward and outpatient department were each given 91% and the Accident and Emergency department was given a 76% rating. Scores of more than 75% are considered good.

The hospital's chief executive Chris Bown said: "We know that we have an extremely efficient and effective team of cleaners so it was very pleasing that the assessors did not find any serious areas of concern and confirmed that cleanliness at West Suffolk Hospital is good.

"However, we will never become complacent and will always strive for the highest standards of cleanliness across the hospital."

SHA board members will consider the MRSA performance report at a meeting on Friday.

rebecca.sheppard@eadt.co.uk

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