NHS facing challenges hitting MRSA goals

The NHS faces some hurdles decreasing hospital infections of MRSA and C.difficile according to statistics released today.

The NHS set two priority commitments to meet in England by December. For the first goal, the NHS wants to ensure that 90 per cent of admission patients and 95 per cent of all non admission patients receive treatment within 18 weeks. The second goal is to decrease actual infection rates C. difficile and MRSA.

Health Secretary, Alan Johnson said “Waiting times and infection rates are key priorities for the public and that’s why the NHS is focusing its efforts in these areas.”

Statistics show that under the Labour party there have been almost 37,000 deaths from MRSA and Clostridium difficile.

Shadow Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, said: “There are still an appalling number of people catching hospital infections in this country – almost 60,000 last year.

“And it’s shameful evidence of Labour’s failure that deaths from C.difficile every year are now more than eight times higher than they were when Labour came to power.”

The government also released figures showing that only 48 per cent of acute trusts and 47 per cent of primary care trusts have achieved the 18 week goals for both admitted and non admitted patients.

The NHS’ problem area with the 18 weeks challenge is medical specialisation. They are strides away from their target with neurological and spinal surgeries. In these cases the NHS has a shortage of these specialised doctors.

Even with these setbacks, the NHS has made substantial improvements.

Mr Johnson said: “The figures published today are the result of hard work and dedication of the NHS staff and the right investment in resources.”

They show the median referral for treatment wait times far admitted patients has come down from 18.8 weeks in March 2007 to 8 weeks in August this year. For non admitted patients the wait time has fallen from 7.4 weeks to 4.3 weeks.

Health Minister Ben Bradshaw said only a small number of trusts are lagging being the December goals and it is still “perfectly possible for everyone to receive 18 week treatment by December”.

Health Protection Agency figures also show C.diff infections in the key age group of over-65’s dropped 21 per cent from 2007-2008.

In order to continue to make progress against the infections, the government has been instructing hospitals to wash their hands, provide antibiotics and isolate anyone showing signs of infection.

The government said the current economic crisis should not obstruct the NHS from reading their goals and that health funding will not face cuts.