Lansley’s ‘goal’ to reduce harm – MRSA and Clostridium difficile needs to be targeted

MRSA Action UK was formed as a result of the scandalous numbers of people being harmed by avoidable infections, many by MRSA, hence the name of our charity.

Since 2004, when we first formed, we have heard and seen different Health Secretaries initiate policies to improve the patient experience and to raise the NHS to the level of the best in the world. Over those same intervening years we have witnessed tragedies at Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells, Basildon and Thurrock and Mid Staffs. More recently the CQC report on the neglect of the elderly in our hospitals through the lack of basic care and of course avoidable healthcare infections are still causing problems in our healthcare facilities and in the community.

Keeping patients safe from harm and not sending them away in a worse condition than when they went into hospital or into care is the outcome we all want. Regulators need to take firm action when patients do not receive optimum care.

We share the Health Secretary’s view that patients and their families should be listened to when they give feedback on the standard of care received. All too often patients who complain are left feeling that they have been fobbed off, when they are, in effect, giving a free consultancy on what has failed.

We share the desire of the Secretary of State for Health for measures that will provide greater accountability, but we cannot see how there can be a "comparison with other health systems around the world" where some of the measures in the revised NHS Operating Framework are not clear.

We welcome any effort to reduce the incidence of healthcare associated infection, but there is only a brief reference to MRSA and Clostridium difficile, and little detail on the benchmark that will be used to define the reduction.

The MRSA reductions achieved since 2004 are significant, but this only relates to bloodstream infections, we still have no commitment to include other infections caused by this bacteria, which are just as significant in the harm this causes to patients. In this regard we are disappointed. Surgical site infection data is available and should be included in the MRSA reporting, mechanisms for hospitals and primary care providers should also be in place to reduce infections caused by lines and invasive devices, and the significant numbers of MSSA infections. Over the last year only just over 30% of MRSA bacteraemias were recorded as being attributable to a hospital stay. This is of real concern to us.

A modern organisation learns from its mistakes and improves the quality of its service, the NHS has a lot to learn if it wishes to improve the health of the British people and the Government and the Health Secretary needs to look again at what systems and measures it has in place to ensure those patients and their families can rely on a service that was once the envy of the world.

Derek Butler
MRSA Action UK
07762 741114