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Hospital Rapped For Failing To Combat Superbug Infections

As the National Health Services (NHS) Trust of UK moves towards its 2008 goal of reducing MRSA infections and Clostridium difficile rates , it has supported the first warning to a hospital, by a health watchdog- the Healthcare Commission, for breaching the Hygiene Code.

The warning issued to Barnet and Chase Farm Hospitals of North London, asks for urgent and necessary steps to be taken to combat the superbugs MRSA and Clostridium difficile.

Inspectors discovered the flaws in management of such infections through a series of unannounced visits. In total 120 trusts will face spot checks over the next year after the Healthcare Commission was given powers under the Health Act 2006 to issue improvement notices.

As part of the NHS Hygiene Code, trusts are required to declare whether they meet the three standards laid down - these relate to cleanliness, infection control and safety procedures.

Points against the Barnet and Chase hospitals include failing to provide and maintain a clean and appropriate environment, put into place sufficient management systems, assess risk and provide isolation facilities. In addition, the commission said the trust did not provide cleansing alcohol gels at patients wash sinks, lockers or tackle superbugs attached to staff uniforms. It also added the trust had no budget for training staff in infection control and that attendance at training was not monitored, while clinical staff were confused about when to isolate people.

Says Anna Walker, chief executive of the Healthcare Commission: "It is absolutely critical that the trust is able to say it is doing everything possible to control infection. "This is not yet the case and we expect that problem to be addressed with urgency on behalf of patients."

In response, a spokesman for Barnet and Chase Farm Hospitals NHS Trust was quoted: "The trust is very disappointed that we failed as an organization to demonstrate our co mpliance with the hygiene code. "We have a robust action plan to meet the outstanding requirements in the improvement notice."

Says Richard Harrison, medical director at Barnet and Chase Farm Trust: Our issues around infection control follow the national picture, but with an extra 500,000 investment in cleaning the wards, screening patients before admission and our prudent antibiotic policy, the trust is winning the battle against hospital-acquired infections. The trust reported 74 new case of C. difficile in April and only 16 cases in June.


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