Tide turns in battle with superbugs as hospital infections hit record low in Scotland
SUPERBUG rates in Scotland’s hospitals have dropped to the lowest levels since records began. Cases of MRSA have fallen by 30 per cent and clostridium difficile, known as C Diff, by 7 per cent.
The Scottish Government says its £30 million campaign to reduce hospital-acquired infections in the last three years has paid off.
The campaign included a drive to encourage more frequent handwashing, recruiting extra cleaning staff and upgrading NHS staff uniforms and dress codes.
Health secretary Nicola Sturgeon said: “These figures are further confirmation that the initiatives we have put in place, coupled with the efforts of health boards and hospital staff, and the scrutiny of the Healthcare Environment Inspectorate, are making a difference.
“It’s vital that patients have confidence in the quality of care and treatment they will receive if they need to go into hospital and this confidence should not be undermined by the fear of contracting an infection.”
Latest figures, for the three months of 2012, show MRSA cases fell from 69 to 48. The biggest drop was in patients over the age of 65.
But figures released yesterday showed a 3 per cent increase in patients aged between 15 and 64 who contracted the bug, although they are still less likely to be infected than older patients.
Health Protection Scotland, which revealed the findings, said MRSA “remains an important health threat within Scotland”.
It said: “Older patients remain at highest risk but the younger age groups are also vulnerable.
“There remains scope for reduction of incidence rates in both age groups through continued local monitoring, appropriate prescribing, and maintenance of infection prevention and control measures.”
In the same 12-week period, cases of the potentially deadly C Diff bug in Scotland’s hospitals fell from 408 to 380. Health Protection Scotland revealed three NHS boards have substantially decreased rates – Ayrshire and Arran, Tayside and Dumfries and Galloway. But Borders and Highland boards had more patients with C Diff.
The government began recording cases of most hospital-acquired infections in 2005.
Ms Sturgeon said: “Staff, patients and visitors all have a role to play in making sure good standards of cleanliness and hand hygiene are maintained as we continue our drive to reduce these infections.”
In the last three years, a range of measures have been introduced to cut superbug rates in Scotland.
The Healthcare Environment Inspectorate carried out a number of unannounced inspections at hospitals across the country. Some of Scotland’s leading hospitals performed poorly in the spot checks, with inspectors uncovering dirty toilets, dusty floors and badly stained walls at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.
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