Branson attacks hospital infection rates

Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson has said if the airline industry had the track record of the NHS on hospital infection it would have been “grounded years ago”.

In an interview with the BBC the new vice president of the Patients Association criticised the government for not doing more than “tinkering” with the problem.

He pointed to the difference between examples of best practice elsewhere in the world like Perth in Australia and Britain’s infection-ridden hospitals.

And he backed the introduction of testing and treatment for MRSA for all those who work in hospitals as a key first step to take.

Sir Richard suggested up to 30 per cent of people who work in hospitals are carriers for the disease and therefore pass it on to patients.

And he backed calls by groups such as MRSA Action for full publication of infection rates in Britain, by ward, hospital and even clinician.

“The problem is that in the industry in England there’s no industry-wide compulsory standards at all and there needs to be,” he said.

“There have been some improvements but the facts speak for themselves and the facts are still horrific.”

The government has met its target of halving the number of MRSA cases in hospitals between 2004 and 2008, by extending the target period by three months.

It says hand-washing, increasing the number of matrons and screening admitted patients for MRSA have had an impact.

But Sir Richard believes more could be done.

“It feels like they’ve tinkered with the problem rather than really got to the heart of the problem,” he added.

“Hospitals are there to heal people. They’re not there to kill people.”