Thousands back EADT MRSA fight

By John HowardTHOUSANDS of people have backed the EADT's campaign to cut MRSA levels in the region's hospitals after baby Luke Day became the country's youngest victim of the superbug.

By John Howard

THOUSANDS of people have backed the EADT's campaign to cut MRSA levels in the region's hospitals after baby Luke Day became the country's youngest victim of the superbug.

Luke was just 36 hours old when he died on a maternity ward at Ipswich Hospital from septicaemia caused by MRSA.

The East Anglian Daily Times launched a Stamp Out MRSA campaign – which calls on the Government and NHS trusts to do more to eradicate the bug – following the death of the baby from Woodbridge.

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Readers have rallied behind the campaign, sending in hundreds of petition forms demanding action to stop another death, and Luke's family have taken to the streets to drum up support.

His grandmother Julie Fenton and her daughter Mandy, 16, were in Ipswich town centre on Saturday getting shoppers to add their names to the EADT's petition.

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Mrs Fenton said: "We are really pleased with the level of support, we had people signing of all ages and not just from Ipswich, but Colchester, Halesworth, even Scotland.

"The campaign is going really well and we are carrying the petition about with us asking people to sign. A lot of people also took a petition to gain signatures at their workplaces."

Mrs Fenton is also writing to Prime Minister Tony Blair asking him to raise standards of cleanliness in hospitals.

"I would like to see a vast improvement in the cleanliness at Ipswich Hospital, I just hope no families have to go through what we have been through. It's been difficult for us. We can't bring Luke back, so we just have to fight for him," she added.

Heidi Snowling, who is expecting a baby and lives in Ipswich, was among the shoppers who stopped to sign the EADT's petition.

"You wonder whether to have a home birth, but the safest place should be at the hospital. You read the bug is on the beds and everything and it is a worry," she said.

Her mother Merche Gardiner, also from Ipswich, added: "These days you do not expect this sort of thing to happen, you just don't expect it. It's terrible about this little boy, so horrible. To lose any child is so bad."

Louise Lamb, a mother from Ipswich, is also expecting a baby at the end of June. The BT worker signed the petition and said: "I'm a mother and expecting and I'm very concerned.

"It's an awful thing for Luke's family to be put through. I can't imagine losing a little baby like this poor lady lost Luke.

"For myself I would like impartial advice, some facts, and the options that are open to me. I can't understand why MRSA is still there – how hard can it be to stamp it out?"

Retired Sheila Rhodda, from Ipswich, said she had been in to the town's hospital a couple of years ago and had found the standards of cleanliness good.

But she backed the campaign, saying she would like to see the standards of cleanliness raised further, and was saddened by what Luke's family had been through.

"It's terrible for the parents to lose little Luke, awful to happen at the end of nine months with a beautiful baby like that," she added.

Other shoppers signing the petition said they would rather see hospital money going to frontline activities and keeping the site clean than on bureaucracy.

A spokeswoman for Ipswich Hospital said staff were determined to find out how Luke contracted MRSA before his death on February 3.

Last week television station Sky News claimed to have discovered evidence of the bug in a number of places within Ipswich Hospital, including on the maternity ward where baby Luke died.

It follows similar investigations conducted by national media, which reported high levels of MRSA at the hospital despite the baby's death.

The hospital spokeswoman said its tests had found that MRSA was still found sporadically throughout the hospital and she stressed it was minimising the risk to patients.

"It's an impossible task to eradicate all trace of any bacteria because we all have it. We have to focus our energy and attention on clinical areas," said the spokeswoman.

Meanwhile, Ipswich Hospital Patient and Public Involvement forum has launched an urgent investigation into the levels of MRSA at the town's hospital.

A spokeswoman for the forum said: "This is a very difficult situation and we are concerned. We need to investigate the serious questions regarding MRSA and the death of baby Luke.

"We will be asking for a full report of up-to-date figures of MRSA and related deaths, also coroners' figures stating MRSA as the cause."

The forum's investigation will be looking at a number of issues including how patients are nursed once they are diagnosed and who is screened before admission to the hospital.

"We feel that standards must be lower and are worried about how low these will fall. A great deal of time seems to be spent in documentation and report writing, but what about basic nursing care? Is there time enough for this?" said the spokeswoman.

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