25 hospital trusts succeed in stamping out MRSA for 12 consecutive months

The organisations reported no cases of the life-threatening superbug between June 2010 and June 2011. And nationally, for the first time since surveillance began in 2001, prevalence dropped to fewer than 100 cases in a single month, according to the figures from the Health Protection Agency (HPA).

Cases of C.difficile are also falling, showing a 16% reduction, with 1,681 cases over the 12-month period. Commenting on the figures, Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, said: "I have been calling for a zero-tolerance approach to avoidable healthcare associated infections (HCAIs) since 2004. Now, just over a year into the coalition government, MRSA bloodstream infections in the NHS are at their lowest level since records began, with fewer than 100 infections in a single month for the first time.

This sustained pattern of falling infections is good news, but the variation between the very best in the country and the very worst is still unacceptably high

What's more, 25 trusts have been MRSA-free for more than a year, proving that with tough infection control measures, we can eradicate avoidable infections from the NHS altogether." But he also urged trusts not to become complacent, adding: "This sustained pattern of falling infections is good news, but the variation between the very best in the country and the very worst is still unacceptably high. So, while progress has been made, we must do better to shrink this gap and improve standards for all."

The HPA publishes data on HCAIs on a weekly basis for each hospital site so that patients can see which are doing well and which are lagging behind. The mandatory surveillance also now includes MSSA and E.coli infections.

The 25 trusts reporting no MRSA infections were: Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Basingstoke and North Hampshire NHS Foundation Trust, Birmingham Children's Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Burton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, The Christie NHS Foundation Trust, Clatterbridge Centre For Oncology NHS Foundation Trust, Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust, George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust, Kettering General Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Liverpool Women's NHS Foundation Trust, Mid Cheshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust, Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic and District Hospital NHS Trust, Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust, Royal National Hospital For Rheumatic Diseases NHS Foundation Trust, Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Trust, The Royal Wolverhampton Hospitals NHS Trust, Sheffield Children's NHS Foundation Trust, Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, The Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust, The Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, The Royal Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Trafford Healthcare NHS Trust, West Suffolk Hospitals NHS Trust.

Commenting on its success, Carolyn White, chief executive of the Sherwood Forest trust, said: "Infection prevention is our top priority and we are delighted to have achieved 500 days without a case of MRSA. This is good news for patients and visitors and is a measure of the hard work and commitment from the staff throughout the whole trust."

Measures undertaken at its hospital have included patient screening on admission, strict hand hygiene protocols and an awareness campaign among hospital patients and visitors.

Karen Egan, associate director for infection prevention and control at Mid Cheshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: "To be acknowledged nationally as one of the best-performing trusts in the country is a great achievement for all of our clinical wards and departments.”

And Julie Smith, director of nursing and quality, added: “Eighteen months without a case of MRSA is an excellent accomplishment. Infection prevention and control remains high on the trust’s agenda, and we hope that patients are reassured that this achievement shows all of our staff are committed to delivering high standards of care.”

At the other end of the table, the five trusts that recorded the highest figures for C.difficile in June 2011 were Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust with 25; Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust with 20 and Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust and Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust with 15 each.

The Leeds trust also topped the MRSA league table, with 21 cases between January and March this year. Also performing badly were Barts and The London NHS Trust with nine cases; and Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust and Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust, each with eight reported incidences.

This is good news for patients and visitors and is a measure of the hard work and commitment from the staff throughout the whole trust.

Commenting on the figures, a spokesman for Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, said: "Staff have been working extremely hard to reduce levels of infections in our hospitals, and considerable progress has been made in tackling instances both of MRSA and C.difficile over the last two years. This is a top priority for the organisation and we fully acknowledge more still needs to be done and are determined to tackle this. Measures being employed include MRSA screening of all patients admitted to our hospitals, plus rigorous investigation when a bacteraemia occurs and use of a cohort ward for C.difficile patients. We also do weekly walk-rounds led by senior clinical staff with a special focus on healthcare associated infection, audits of practice and focused education, training and campaigns, plus we have increased levels of environmental cleaning."

A spokeswoman for Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust added that its appearance at the top of the C.difficile table was a blip for that month and not indicative of its average rates, which remain low.

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