Superbug levels squashed by half

by Grainne Byrne

Levels of MRSA and C. difficile in Scotland have dropped to record low levels since records began.   Latest figures from Health Protection Scotland show that levels of C.diff have contracted by 42% and figures for MRSA are down 25%.

Cabinet Secretary for Health, Nicola Sturgeon, said the reduction in infection levels are hopeful and show that efforts to eradicate superbugs are yielding positive results. 

Ms Sturgeon said: “I have made tackling hospital infections a top priority and I am encouraged that today’s figures show our strenuous efforts appear to be reaping rewards. 

The Health Secretary says that despite the promising figures in the first half of 2009, we must not rest on our laurels. 

“We are confident that we now have the right initiatives in place and the figures back this up. We are seeing significant and sustained reductions in infections which is good news for patients throughout Scotland. 

“However, there is no room for complacency. I want us to continue this excellent progress as we drive to eliminate all avoidable infections from our hospitals.”

In 2008, 18 patients at the Vale of Leven Hospital died as a result of a failure to tackle an outbreak of C.diff.  The total figure for deaths caused by C.diff in 2008 was 711, with 182 in greater Glasgow and Clyde NHS Board.

The Scottish Government are investing more than £50 million on initiatives such as MRSA screening, spot checks, and zero-tolerance on hygiene procedures to reduce infection rates by 30 per cent by 2010.

Public to report NHS hygiene failures to Scottish Government

handwashingBy Domenica Goduto

Patients and visitors to hospitals are being encouraged to report hygiene failures on the part of the NHS directly to the Scottish Government.

This measure is among several announced by the Government today as part of a new campaign to improve cleanliness standards in order to combat hospital superbugs. 

Other measures include random hygiene inspections and the creation of a government organization, the Care Environment Inspectorate, specifically dedicated to wiping out infections such as MRSA and C. diff.

Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon announced that the £1 million that will be spent on the scheme each year is an indication of the Government’s determination to tackle the problem.

She stated: “We have put in place a comprehensive package of measures, including boosting spending by 260 per cent, but it’s crucial that we – and more importantly the public – are assured that this work is delivering the high standards everyone expects.

“The Care Environment Inspectorate’s stringent inspection regime will do just that.

The initiative is the result of a consultation held last year in reponse to the C.diff outbreak that killed 18 people at the Vale of Leven hospital in 2007.

More stringent hygiene standards have already lowered the number of MRSA and C. diff cases since 2006, when 40 people across the Lothians died as a result of the latter infection.

Handwashing regulations are being more strictly adhered to, and the appointment of nurse wardens to each ward has helped with the enforcement of cleanliness standards.

Junior doctors have also been warned not to list C. diff as a contributing factor on death certificates unless they are absolutely positive that this is the case.

Sturgeon also notes that the appointment of a chief inspector to oversee the Government’s efforts in this area will be a key factor in its success.  She says:  “With the right person at the helm, offering strong leadership, I’m confident that the inspectorate will ensure all boards meet the highest possible standards.

The move follows claims by Theresa Fyffe, director of the Royal College of Nursing in Scotland, last week that the Government needed a more coordinated approach to battling superbugs, including more staff, an overall supervisor and clearer guidelines on initiatives.

She said that many frontline hospital staff were confused by the Government’s sporadic tactics and that the issue was becoming politicized, thereby creating confusion and anxiety on the wards.

News in Brief

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by Margaret Kearns and Alexandre Tregre

Scottish hospitals to fight MRSA with “fresh air machines”

Scottish hospitals are to trial the use of Air Disinfection machines aimed at combatting the spread of the superbug MRSA. The clean air machines, devised by Mid-States Technology, have already proved successful in Sunderland Royal Hospital and are destined for Edinburgh, Dumfries and Galloway.

Obama team to meet Bush today for transition talks

Obama takes his first steps into the Oval office today to meet with Bush at the White House for a discussion on the transition of power. Head of Obama’s team John Podesta indicated yesterday a strong urgency to make reversals on many of Bush’s executive decisions on oil and gas drilling and stem cell research, amongst others.

Government advice to women: stop taking the pill

The Scottish government are to commence a new strategy urging women to forsake the contraceptive pill in favour of longer lasting methods of birth control such as implants or injections. The move is set to combat the rising abortion rate in Scotland with £270,000 a year earmarked for spending on the initiative.

First Lockerbie payouts made to families in U.S.

$500m has been paid to the U.S. families who lost loved ones in 1988’s Lockerbie bombing. The compensation money came from a $1.5bn Libyan Government payout issued to the U.S. in August which also incorporates the victims of bomb attacks in Germany in 1986. The Libyan government denies responsibility in the attacks but has taken the step in order improve its diplomatic relationship with the U.S.

Sat Nav for the blind developed by Glasgwegian

A blind man has invented Loadstone, an innovative new satellite navigation system for the blind. Monty Lilburn, 33 developed the mapping software which can be downloaded to a mobile phone and delivers useful directions and information on bustops, road crossings, cash machines, journey times and train stations.

Scottish man clubbed to death in Barcelona

Lanarkshire man Derek Cowan was found, having been clubbed to death at his business partner’s Barcelona home. British police have revealed Cowan may have been involved in illegal share dealing. Spanish police investigating the murder have refused to comment on the link and are continuing the search for Navy officer William Madley who is was to have met with the victim on the day of his death.

Russian sub accident claims 20 lives, 21 more critically injured

The trail run of a new Russian submarine has ended in tragedy in the Sea of Japan after a fire safety system malfunctioned by emitting freon gas, killing 17 civilians and 3 seamen amongst the 208 on board. A further 21 people are critically injured in hospital. President Medvedev has called for a thorough investigation of the accident.

New Labour party leader attacks Salmond

After winning his new position as Labour party leader, Ian Gray launched a verbal attack on SNP First Minister Alex Salmond. Mr. Gray became the fifth Scottish Labour leader since the devolution began. Following his victory he gave a speech that projected unfortunate feelings toward
Salmond claiming that, “we don’t need a First Minister who takes pride in putting people down.”

Doctors’ mistakes kill thousands

According to updated research it is suggested that doctors mistakes’ kill tens of thousands of patients at a cost of £300m a year in the United Kingdom. In Scotland alone such mistakes affect up to 50,000 patients. Unfortunately, up to 90% of medical errors are not accounted for. Such errors can include misdiagnoses and prescribing incorrect medications.

Weekend carnage on the roads as little boy dies in car smash

Four people have died on Scotland’s roads this past weekend including a seven year old boy from Peebles. Benjamin Paton and his dad Allan were involved in a road collision on the A9 near Perth which resulted in the death of the boy whose father was also seriously injured in the two car smash. The lives of three other men were also lost when a car left the road and two cars collided in Aberdeenshire and Ayrshire respectively.

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