Sussex trust faces hefty fines over C.difficile outbreaks

East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust poised to exceed its target for deadly bug

Hand washing with a copper tap at Selly Oak Hospital, Birmingham, UK

East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust faces being fined hundreds of thousands of pounds unless it can curb the number of cases of C.difficile on its wards.

Hospital trusts are given targets by the local clinical commissioning board, and East Sussex has already reported 16 confirmed incidences, with just 25 allowed in the period between April this year and the end of March 2014.

If it exceeds this figure, it will have to pay hefty penalties - fines of around £40,000 per case over its limit.

As a result, the trust is warning staff to improve infection prevention efforts, with chief executive, Darren Grayson, telling employees that, while C.difficile cases had been steadily reducing in recent years, the latest target was ‘a tall order’.

He said: “This reduction has been to the credit of everyone who has played their part in reducing the risk of infection by maintaining good hand hygiene and adhering to best practice infection control guidelines.

“But we must constantly remain vigilant when it comes to reducing healthcare acquired infections.”

The trust runs Eastbourne District General Hospital and the Conquest Hospital .

The news follows a decision by the NHS Commissioning Board to appoint a leading infection control specialist to investigate outbreaks of C.difficile infection at the Royal Bolton Hospital.

The trust could be forced to hand over around £3.2m after exceeding its targets for the last financial year. The hospital was given an allowance of 28 cases, but recorded 65 over the 12-month period. In February alone there were six cases when it had planned no more than three a month.

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