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MRSA Action UK Press Archive April to June 2008



Daily Mail article
Overcrowding in hospitals ‘is behind the high rates of MRSA’

By Jenny Hope

Last updated at 10:49 PM on 23rd June 2008

Overcrowding in hospitals is creating a ‘vicious circle’ of superbug infections, researchers say. Seven out of ten wards are exceeding bed occupancy targets, an analysis found yesterday.

This is putting patients at increased risk of contracting MRSA, according to a report in The Lancet Infectious Diseases medical journal.

Infected patients are forced to spend longer in hospital, which contributes to ‘bed blocking’ and also makes them more likely to contract other hospital-acquired diseases.

MRSA campaigners predict that around 40 per cent of trusts will breach the Government’s target of halving infection rates this year.

Of 89 foundation trusts, 36 had breached the target at the end of March, according to the regulatory body Monitor.

The latest research, from Australian scientists at the University of Queensland, found that overcrowding and understaffing in hospitals are contributing to the spread of MRSA.

Lead researcher Dr Archie Clements said: ‘The drive towards greater efficiency, by reducing the number of hospital beds and increasing patient throughput has led to highly stressed healthcare systems with unwelcome side effects.’

He added that staff shortages and higher workloads meant it was more difficult for nurses and doctors to comply with hygiene rules such as hand-washing.

There was also insufficient space for isolation facilities to reduce the spread of infection, he said. The report compared-MRSA rates across several countries.

In the UK, higher hospital admission rates, together with reduced numbers of beds, have led to 71 per cent of NHS trusts exceeding the Government’s bed occupancy target of 82 per cent, Dr Clements said.

Occupancy rates are a measure of what percentage of a hospital’s beds are in use at any one time. The scientist added: ‘Overcrowding and understaffing have had a negative effect on patients’ safety and quality of care, evidenced by the flourishing of healthcare-acquired MRSA infections in many countries, despite efforts to control and prevent these infections occurring.’

Derek Butler, chairman of the MRSA Action charity, said microbiologists were in agreement that bed occupancy of over 85 per cent contributed to infection rates.

He said: ‘The ideal figure for hospital bed occupancy is 65 per cent, which is the level followed by the Dutch who have an excellent record on hospital-acquired infections.’

But a spokesman for the Department of Health said a study published in December showed no correlation between MRSA rates and high rates of bed occupancy in England.

She added: ‘We do not think it is sensible to dictate to well-performing hospitals that may have bed occupancy rates over 85 per cent that they should bring those rates down. That is for them to manage.’

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1028882/Overcrowding-hospitals-high-rates-MRSA.html


MRSA ‘thriving in busy wards’

Monday, June 23, 2008

A ‘vicious cycle’ of overcrowding and understaffing in hospitals is fuelling the MRSA crisis, according to a report.

Too many patients and too few nurses means superbugs are thriving - which in turn leads to increased hospital stays, bed blocking and further infection.

Seven in ten health trusts have exceeded the government’s bed occupancy target of 82 per cent and hand washing rules have not always been followed, a study published in medical journal The Lancet found.

‘Hand washing is vital for reduction of MRSA transmission yet many studies show compliance in nurses is low and in doctors even lower,’ said report author Dr Archie Clements, from Australia’s University of Queensland.

‘Compliance falls further during periods of understaffing and high workload.’

Derek Butler, chairman of MRSA Action UK, called for bed occupancy rates to fall to 65 per cent - the same as in the Netherlands and Norway.

But a Department of Health spokesman said: ‘Analysis published in December 2007 showed there is no correlation between MRSA rates and high rates of bed occupancy in England.’

http://www.metro.co.uk/news/article.html?in_article_id=188634&in_page_id=34



Viewpoint: How dare we let these dirty hospitals kill 8,000 a year?

By Edwina Currie

Last updated at 12:54 AM on 17th June 2008

A record number of people are dying in NHS hospitals from superbugs. According to figures recently released, death certificates for 2006 showed that more than 8,000 patients in England and Wales died from either MRSA, the drug-resistant bug that infects surgical wounds, or from Clostridium difficile, a virulent form of diarrhoea.

Each year, we now kill more people with C.diff than die on our roads, while deaths from MRSA are the equivalent of two train crashes a week.

In fact, more than 55,000 cases of C.diff occur each year, and the number is rising. That’s more than 1,000 new cases every seven days. Both infections are preventable, and both are treatable if caught soon enough.

Yet where are the politicians making speeches about this scandal? I can’t name any. It makes me seethe.

What’s more, those deaths are probably an underestimate, since most hospitals don’t bother testing for MRSA until a patient is obviously affected. By the time the results arrive, often the poor soul has died, been certificated and dispatched to the undertakers.

The MRSA superbug, which contributes to the deaths of over 8,000 hospital patients each year

Until April last year, we didn’t even bother counting cases of C.diff among patients under 65 - as if they didn’t matter. True, mortality is lower among young people, but they’re just as likely to spread it as anyone else.

The Government’s own target, set in March 2004, is merely to halve the number of MRSA cases. That is a pathetic failure of will.

It’s five years since infection control managers were ordered for every NHS Trust. Well-paid but powerless, they’ve made not a scrap of difference.

This spring, a £40 million hospital ‘deep clean’ took place, but what is the point if wards are as neglected the following day as before? Yesterday, official figures showed that more than a quarter of health trusts are failing to meet basic hygiene standards.

Ministers should check out practice in other countries. In Holland and Scandinavia the policy is ‘search and destroy’.

All patients are tested, cases are isolated and treated until they get the all- clear, so only occasional examples of MRSA occur. Their standards of cleanliness and vigilance are awesome by comparison.

The answer is simple: hospitals must be clean, clean, clean. Florence Nightingale knew this, in the days before antibiotics made us lazy.

It is not a question of money but of good practice. Plain soap and water on floors, beds, shelves, door-handles, everywhere; hygiene maintained ferociously, but especially around bathrooms, toilets, kitchens.

Actress Leslie Ash, whose own battle with MRSA caused her to lose feeling from her waist down and needing a walking stick

Thorough sterilisation of equipment, particularly if it’s going to be used many times; clean uniforms; and more than anything, staff washing their hands before they touch a patient. Over and over again.

Recently, I’ve visited friends in hospitals. The standards were not bad; the wards were fairly clean. But bed curtains hung off their hooks and needed a wash.

Beds were too close together - an invitation to cross-infection. I didn’t see anybody using alcohol gels and when I checked (this was a teaching hospital), several of the dispensers were empty.

There wasn’t a sink nearby in the ward; apparently they aren’t designed that way any more. The Government advises a ‘bare below the elbow’ uniform, to encourage hand-washing; on one ward with elderly folk prone to C.diff, the doctors were in scruffy clothes, sleeves down to the wrists.

It took half an hour before one old lady was assisted to get out of bed to go to the toilet. Last time, I was told, they didn’t get to her quick enough and she ‘went’ in the bed. Then they wonder why they still have problems?

There’s a climate of complacency and even ignorance in some of the worst-offending hospitals. At an NHS conference last week I was asked by one senior woman manager why the Press are so critical.

She had got her staff retrained; she claimed her hospital was a success story. I asked how many cases of MRSA they’d had in the past year and she didn’t know.

But she knew how many they’d had last week, and it was four. That works out at several hundred a year. She believed this was a cause for congratulation and got shirty when I disagreed.

Yet when hospital managers take control of the situation, outcomes can improve.

The Royal Worcester Hospital replaced all its old commodes and every mattress and its infection rates dramatically fell.

Campaigning charities such as The Patients’ Association and MRSA Action UK urge patients to take a stand.

If a member of staff does not wash their hands, insist they do. If a commode is unclean, tell somebody. Challenge bad practice and praise good work, too.

If staff from doctors to kitchen hands remembered they, too, might be a patient next week, suffering the same grubby regime as the rest of us, then maybe things would change.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1026990/Viewpoint-How-dare-let-dirty-hospitals-kill-8-000-year.html?ITO=1490


Rats found in hospital kitchen

Neal Keeling

16/ 6/2008

A HOSPITAL kitchen shut down after it was infested by rats has re-opened.

Staff discovered the rodents at Wythenshawe Hospital and bosses ordered an intensive ‘deep clean’.

But another rat was found in the kitchen a few days later and it has now been closed down.

The discovery comes as a watchdog named and shamed three health trusts in Greater Manchester for failing to meet hygiene standards.

The kitchen, which caters for 35 patients on the hospital’s renal and burns units, was first shut down on Friday, June 6.

Contractors carried out a deep clean using chemicals and pesticides and all food stored in the kitchen was destroyed.

It re-opened two days later, but another rat was spotted and it has remained shut ever since.

Patients on the units were being fed from other kitchens on the hospital site.

The NHS Trust which runs the site said it was looking to find out how the rats had got into the building - which is only six years old.

A spokesman said: “The walls are being opened up to try and establish how the rats are gaining access. Wire mesh has been put on windows and drain pipes blocked as a precaution to keep them out.

“While a structural examination is carried out the kitchen will remain closed. Food will be taken direct to the wards from a main kitchen.”

Health group MRSA Action UK, which campaigns for cleaner hospitals, said the find was disturbing.

Chairman Derek Butler said: “Research has shown 30pc of NHS hospitals are unfit. Hygiene is not just about the wards, it is about the whole hospital environment. The kitchens, restrooms and corridors all have to be attended to.

“If infections get into food or are on unclean cutlery or plates, the chances of patients contracting an illness are higher.”

Wythenshawe Hospital went from zero to a top three-star rating in 12 months in 2002 - it won independence as a foundation hospital in 2006.

The hospital, which has 5,300 staff, specialises in heart surgery, lung conditions and treating burns and has previously been hailed for pioneering the use of anti-microbial oils to fight infections.

http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/s/1054110_rats_found_in_hospital_kitchen


Superbug in hospital outbreak ‘has same death rate as smallpox’

Published Date: 15 June 2008

By Gareth Rose

EXPERTS fear the strain of Clostridium difficile that has killed eight people at the Vale of Leven Hospital, and been involved in the deaths of eight more, is as deadly as smallpox. The strength of the 027 strain is under investigation, but the rate of fatalities in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde hospital, in West Dunbartonshire, has horrified bacteriologists.

The strain is 20 times more toxic than normal C diff, but ordinarily it would still only be expected to claim the lives of 7% of the people it infects. At the Vale of Leven, 22 people with the infection have died in the past six months. In eight cases, C difficile was believed to be the main cause of death.

There have been calls for the Scottish Government to launch an inquiry into why it took so long for the hospital to raise the alarm when worryingly high numbers of cases can be traced back as far as January.

Health Protection Scotland is constantly reviewing its guidance on the administering of antibiotics. Too many can leave patients vulnerable to C difficile by killing off the friendly bacteria in their bodies, while too few can fail to treat the illness they are in hospital with.

However, it is the damage the 027 strain caused once it had taken hold in the Vale of Leven that is of greatest concern.

Hugh Pennington, professor of bacteriology at Aberdeen University, said: “This horrendous death rate - that’s an appropriate word to use - requires explanation.

“Were a lot of cases undetected? I think there’s more to it than that. If it’s a new strain killing that many, well, that’s a mortality rate of smallpox from the middle ages.

“If you are looking at the history of infectious diseases, there are very few that approach that level of mortality.”

Between 2004 and 2006, 90 people died from C diff in three Kent hospitals, in Britain’s deadliest superbug outbreak. However, that was out of 1,176 who had been infected - a lower rate than in Vale of Leven.

Pennington said: “With this level of infection, eight deaths is a hell of a lot. It’s outrageously high.

“It is possibly more virulent and produces more toxins than previous strains.”

The Vale of Leven outbreak has already raised C difficile’s profile above that of MRSA, the previously better known hospital superbug.

There are fears alcohol wipes used to prevent the spread of MRSA may aid C diff, as they stimulate the growth of pores, allowing it to move more easily from one patient to another.

This means the Scottish Government and health boards may have to rethink their approach to tackling superbugs.

Pennington said: “It’s something we’ve been concerned about for some time. Now this 027 strain has raised the profile of C diff, and it has emerged as a serious problem.

“It’s had a very low priority until very recently and seems to have gone under the radar.”

Health Protection Scotland, which is facing questions from Scottish Labour on its role in the failure to raise the alarm earlier, is at a loss to explain why the Vale of Leven outbreak proved so deadly.

Dr Anne Eastaway, consultant microbiologist at Health Protection Scotland, said: “There are suggestions from Canada that 027 is a strain that spreads easily, but that’s not a constantly held view.

“The issue over deaths is less clear-cut.

“We don’t really know the answer (as to why the Vale of Leven outbreak proved so deadly] yet.”

She said guidance on the strength of prescriptions of antibiotics was a “constant balancing act” between leaving patients vulnerable to C diff and running the risk of them contracting other infections.

Last Updated: 14 June 2008 7:39 PM

Source: Scotland On Sunday

Location: Scotland

http://news.scotsman.com/scotland/Superbug-in-hospital-outbreak-39has.4186845.jp



16 deaths linked to C Diff outbreak at one hospital

DAMIEN HENDERSON

June 12 2008

A leading health expert last night warned that the virulent hospital bug C Diff could now be a bigger threat than MRSA after it emerged that 16 patients were found to have died in the country’s biggest outbreak.

An investigation by the infection control team at Vale of Leven Hospital in West Dunbartonshire revealed 54 people had been treated for a particularly deadly strain of C Diff in the six months to June 1, Greater Glasgow and Clyde NHS said yesterday.

Eight people died as a direct result of the 027 strain and the bug was found to have contributed to the deaths of a further eight people, the health board said.

Another six patients with the infection died at the hospital, but the board said the C Diff played no role in these cases.

The outbreak is the clearest sign yet that C Diff has taken root in Scotland. It had previously been considered more of a problem south of the border. The first Scottish case of 027 was diagnosed in October 2006.

Hugh Pennington, emeritus professor of bacteriology at Aberdeen University, described the latest outbreak as a major threat to Scottish hospitals.

He said: “There’s no absolute proof, but it does seem to be particularly good at spreading in hospitals and that may be one of the reasons it has become more common.”

He added that there was reason to believe C Diff was more of a priority than MRSA, warning: “A lot more people die from C Diff and it kills people quite speedily compared with MRSA, which can take months to kill.”

After an emergency outbreak control meeting on Tuesday to discuss the latest worrying developments, it was agreed to conduct an urgent review of the use of antibiotics, which can contribute to C Diff infections by destroying other bacteria in the gut that would normally fight against it.

The board’s hand hygiene co-ordinator has also been sent to the hospital to investigate improvements to hand-washing facilities and compliance with hygiene protocols at the hospital.

Of the 54 infected patients, only 13 had contracted C Diff before entering the hospital.

The emergency measures follow the completion of an investigation of C Diff cases in the Clyde area ordered in March after a “cluster” of three people were found to have the bug - two at Vale of Leven and one at the Royal Alexandria Hospital in Paisley. One of those patients died.

A further meeting of the outbreak control team, which includes members of the health board’s Public Health Protection Unit, Health Protection Scotland and infection control leaders, is scheduled for this afternoon.

Hygiene experts last night warned the growth of C Diff, particularly the 027 strain, raised questions about the suitability of hygiene procedures introduced in UK hospitals to tackle the spread of MRSA.

While alcohol wipes and gels common on Scottish wards are seen as effective in combating MRSA, they do not kill C Diff spores and there is some evidence alcohol may even promote their growth.

Mr Pennington called for a Scottish-wide review to examine whether it was necessary to revert to “old-fashioned” hand-washing methods.

“One of the issues is that there is so much emphasis on alcohol gels and wipes. For MRSA, these are fine but they don’t do much to combat C Diff,” he said.

“We may need to go back to the old-fashioned method of hand-washing in sinks using soap as it appears to be the only thing that keeps C Diff at bay.”

A spokeswoman for Health Protection Scotland, the NHS agency tasked with preventing disease and infection outbreaks, said it supported measures taken by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and was working with infection control teams from other health boards to contain the spread of C Diff.

Dr Syed Ahmed, chair of the NHSGGC outbreak control team, said he was “particularly concerned” about the number of deaths at Vale of Leven between last December and June 1.

(c) All rights reserved.

http://www.theherald.co.uk/news/news/display.var.2335881.0.16_deaths_linked_to_C_Diff_outbreak_at_one_hospital.php


Garlic may help beat MRSA ‘superbug’

Wednesday June 11 2008 18:29 IST

LONDON : An ingredient in garlic is the latest weapon in the battle to fight the hospital ‘superbug’ MRSA, according to researchers at the University of East London.

They claim to have found that allicin, a natural compound that gives garlic its distinctive smell, can cure patients suffering from the antibiotic-resistant infection.

Trial conducted with 52 patients, who took allicin capsules or sprayed a liquid on to their wounds, recovered fully within four to 12 weeks.

“This is a breakthrough in the fight against MRSA,” the Mirror quoted lead author Dr Ron Cutler, of the University of East London, as saying.

Derek Butler, of the charity MRSA Action UK, said: “We welcome any new developments in the fight against infection.”

http://www.newindpress.com/NewsItems.asp?ID=IE320080611080828&Page=3&Title=Features+-+Health+%26+Science&Topic=-162


MRSA Garlic ‘Cure’

Posted on: Tuesday, 10 June 2008

By EMILY COOK

THE killer superbug MRSA can be beaten with garlic, scientists have claimed.

Trials showed that allicin, a natural compound which gives garlic its distinctive smell, can cure patients suffering from the antibiotic-resistant infection.

In a trial, all 52 patients who took allicin capsules or sprayed a liquid on to their wounds recovered fully within four to 12 weeks. Leader Dr Ron Cutler, of the University of East London, said: “This is a breakthrough in the fight against MRSA.”

The infection officially kills almost 2,000 hospital patients a year, although experts believe the true toll is closer to 5,000.

Derek Butler, of the charity MRSA Action UK, said: “We welcome any new developments in the fight against infection.”

(c) 2008 Daily Mirror. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.

http://www.redorbit.com/news/health/1426381/mrsa_garlic_cure/



MRSA cure on the high street

Submitted by: Tiger White PR

TUESDAY 10th JUNE 2008

NEW RESEARCH REVEALS NATURAL WEAPON AGAINST MRSA

A safe, natural compound that kills MRSA is now available on the high street and has already cured at least 52 people, suffering from MRSA infections, in Britain.

Scientists from the University of East London (UEL) have revealed the results of a new patient study program confirming that stabilised allicin, a 100% natural compound derived from garlic, is highly effective at treating patients with MRSA-infected wounds within weeks. The programme follows clinical research published in 2004 in the British Journal of Biomedical Science1 that demonstrated stabilised allicin’s in vitro efficacy against MRSA.

Stabilised allicin is widely available in UK high street pharmacies including Boots and all good health food stores and gives consumers a readily accessible, natural weapon against the now widespread superbug. Latest figures from the Health Protection Agency showed there were 1,087 cases of MRSA from October to the end of December last year.

The new research, due to be published in the Journal of Alternatives in Natural Therapy in September 2008, will be welcomed by thousands of people affected by the superbug, from patients, doctors, nurses, community care workers and people due to be admitted into hospitals.

The patient study program followed 52 patients suffering from hospital acquired MRSA-infected wounds. MRSA infection was verified through swabbing and analysis in UEL laboratories. Patients were asked to take up to 1350mg of stabilised allicin capsules and some were asked to spray a stabilised allicin liquid or use a cream formulation on the infected area twice daily. All 52 case studies treated with stabilised allicin recovered fully from their MRSA infection. Many wounds healed between 4 and 12 weeks of starting treatment.

The paper also highlights in detail three case studies of patients with confirmed MRSA infections at multiple sites. All had been treated with a series of conventional antibiotics (oral, topical and intravenous) in hospital but were discharged when antibiotics proved to be ineffective.

Allicin is a sulphur based-compound derived from garlic that contributes to its distinctive smell and helps it to defend itself against invading micro-organisms. Widely acknowledged as a highly active anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal agent, allicin is a very unstable molecule which has made it difficult to use on a practical level. It is only recently that researchers have discovered and patented a method to extract allicin that is stable and active in vitro and in vivo against MRSA and many other bacterial infections.

Over use of conventional antibiotics has caused many bacteria to survive and develop resistance to treatment. Stabilised allicin is an extremely small molecule that penetrates the cell walls and kills bacteria outright (bactericidal) by interfering with vital metabolic processes, including synthesis of proteins that allow the bacteria to function. Stabilised allicin also prevents bacteria from releasing many enzymes that are toxic to humans and prevent infected wounds from healing. Unlike conventional antibiotics, stabilised allicin only affects “bad” bacteria, so there is no damage to the beneficial intestinal flora and fauna. Unlike many antibiotics, there are no known side effects or contra-indications associated with stabilised allicin and can even be taken by patients on blood thinning drugs.

“Garlic guru” Peter Josling, Director of The Garlic Centre, who funded the study, said: “As we enter a new age of frightening multi-drug resistant organisms, it is a relief to know mother nature has evened the odds for us. Stabilised allicin has a key role to play in the fight against the superbug MRSA in a hospital, nursing home or community setting. Many healthcare workers may also find that stabilised allicin intake may reduce their own risk of developing an infection. The even better news is that this powerful, safe and natural compound is available from high street pharmacies all over the UK”

Dr Ron Cutler, Principle Microbiologist and researcher at the University of East London said: “This is a breakthrough in the fight against MRSA. We have long known that stabilised allicin is very active against MRSA in the lab and these results from volunteer studies show it can be effective in treating humans.”

Derek Butler, spokesperson for charity MRSA Action said: “As a charity we welcome any new developments in the fight to treat resistant strains of infections, and we hope that stabilised allicin may offer the hope of a step forward in this fight.”

http://www.responsesource.com/releases/rel_display.php?relid=39503&hilite=


All patients to be tested for MRSA in bid to beat superbug

Published Date: 03 June 2008

By Emily Pykett

ALL patients admitted to hospital for routine operations are to be tested for MRSA as part of a pilot programme aimed at destroying the superbug.

Three health boards will take part in the £5.2 million, year-long Scottish Government scheme, which could benefit almost a million patients.

If they test positive, they will undergo a five-day course of antiseptic skin washes and antibiotic ointment applied to the nostrils - unless this hinders their immediate treatment - before being tested again.

Announcing the pilot scheme yesterday, Nicola Sturgeon, the health secretary, said the government, which has pledged to cut superbugs by 30 per cent by 2010, was committed to rolling the scheme out across the whole of Scotland from next year at an annual cost of £16 million.

The pilots are taking place in the Ayrshire and Arran, Western Isles and Grampian health board areas.

Experts and patients’ groups welcomed the move - although there were calls for a nationwide scheme to be implemented immediately.

Scotland currently spends £183 million a year in the fight against MRSA.

During a visit to Kilmarnock’s Crosshouse Hospital, which is involved in the pilot, Ms Sturgeon said: “It’s crucial that the public have confidence in their NHS and know they’re going to get the best possible care if they need hospital treatment.

“Healthcare-associated infection is a problem for health services around the world, and Scotland is no different. But we’re determined to do all we can to minimise the risk that patients will contract MRSA, which can cause unnecessary complications.

“A simple swab as part of the pre-admission process is all it takes to establish whether a patient has MRSA.

“Many people carry the bug on their skin or in their nose, but it is only when it enters an open wound that it causes problems - that is why we are introducing screening for hospital patients.

“In tandem with initiatives such as our national hand- hygiene campaign and a new reporting system for C diff, MRSA screening will help us meet our target to reduce Staph aureus (which includes MRSA] blood infections by 2010.”

Hugh Pennington, emeritus professor of bacteriology at the University of Aberdeen, welcomed the project. He told The Scotsman: “People have realised that this really has to be done now if we are to tackle MRSA.

“It’s quite expensive, but if you look at the total costs of tackling MRSA, let alone the human suffering it involves, the cost of screening should make a saving. We know that, with any system, people sometimes slip through the net but I would be surprised if this does not reap benefits.

“The only thing that needs to be done now is make sure people are isolated when cases of MRSA are identified, but this would incur extra cost.”

Margaret Watt, who chairs the Scottish Patients’ Association, said: “We have been campaigning for this for such a long time; it is excellent to know it is finally going ahead. But it should be rolled out all across Scotland now, not in a year’s time. Doing it piecemeal means not all patients will be able to access the same treatment.

“Each and every patient should be swabbed for MRSA before they reach each and every hospital, not just in selected areas. It sounds like common sense to us - why hasn’t routine testing on admissions happened before?”

IN NUMBERS

1,652 The number of people in the UK who died of MRSA in 2006.

£30,000 The amount that Greater Glasgow NHS Board is being sued for by Elizabeth Miller, 71, of Kilsyth, after surgery in 2001 to replace a heart valve resulted in MRSA infection.

5 The number of common strains of MRSA killed in clinical trials of a new drug treatment, XF-73, made by Destiny Pharma.

3 out of 10 The number of people carrying MRSA bacterium on their skin.

Almost one in 10 The number of patients who get infections in Scottish hospitals - the highest rate in the UK.

6,480 The number of hospital patients killed by C diff in 2006, up 72 per cent on the previous year.

94 The number of people who died between 2002-6 of MRSA-related illness at Derriford Hospital, in Plymouth - the highest rate in the UK.

http://news.scotsman.com/scotland/All-patients-to-be-tested.4143673.jp



Disinfectant wipes may spread bacteria rather than kill them, say scientists

By Jenny Hope

3rd June 2008

Disinfectant wipes routinely used in hospitals may actually spread drug-resistant bacteria rather than kill them, claim researchers.

The wipes have been a main plank of infection control for three years but they fail to destroy all the bacteria they come into contact with, and could transfer them to other surfaces, says a study from Cardiff University.

Current practices in NHS hospitals which mean staff use one wipe to clean several surfaces before discarding them are likely to result in the spread of potentially deadly MRSA infections, it concludes.

Dr Gareth Williams, who presented the findings yest (tues) at the American Society of Microbiology’s General Meeting in Boston, said they were ‘high risk’ practices.

He said: ‘We need to give guidance to the staff on how to use the wipes because we found there is a possibility of cross transfer.

‘Claims of effectiveness, such as “kills MRSA”, are ubiquitous on the packaging of antimicrobial-containing wipes.

‘On the whole, wipes can be effective in removing, killing and preventing the transfer of pathogens such as MRSA but only if used in the right way.

‘We found that the most effective way is to prevent the risk of MRSA spread in hospital wards is to ensure the wipe is used only once on one surface.’

MRSA kills almost 2,000 hospital patients a year in the UK based on mentions of the infection on deaths certificates, although experts believe the toll is closer to 5,000 victims.

Blood infection with MRSA is seen as the most serious form of the bug as it can lead to blood poisoning and organ failure, but it underestimates the scale of the problem because the superbug also infects wounds.

Because the superbug is resistant to most everyday antibiotics, infections can often only be treated with expensive, intravenous drugs.

Dr Williams, microbiologist at the Welsh School of Pharmacy, said the study investigated cleaning methods used in intensive care units at two Welsh hospitals.

The researchers found many health care workers used a single antimicrobial wipe to clean multiple surfaces near patients, such as bed rails, monitors, tables and key pads.

It was found the wipes were being applied to the same surface several times and used on consecutive surfaces before being discarded.

The process was replicated in the laboratory using several commercially available wipes to clean surfaces contaminated with different strains of MRSA.

Researchers found some wipes can remove higher numbers of bacteria from surfaces than others, but the wipes tested were unable to kill the bacteria removed.

As a result high numbers of bacteria were transferred to other surfaces when reused.

Derek Butler of the charity MRSA Action, who lost his stepfather to the superbug four years ago, blamed the Government’s complacency for not giving sufficient priority to staff training and education.

He said: ‘One in three trusts is failing on hospital infections and they have got to make changes to bring hospital cleanliness into the 21st century.

‘The Government is failing the people of this country by paying lip service to infection prevention and control, including the £57 million deep clean which was a pure waste of public money.

‘Unfortunately bacterial wipes are seen as a cure-all for bugs that give a false impression of cleanliness.

‘They don’t kill C.diff bugs, for example, only soap, water and bleach does that.

‘I agree with the Cardiff University researchers that NHS staff need a lot more education and training to help them keep our hospitals safe.’

Shadow Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said ‘From start to finish, Labour’s attitude to hospital infections has been woefully misguided.

‘For years even their own advisers have been telling them that the way to tackle the problem is to identify infected patients as early as possible and then isolate them to make sure others don’t catch it.

‘But Labour have ignored the experts and Gordon Brown has stubbornly chosen to put time, money and effort into a “deep clean” which made a good headline but wasn’t backed up by any evidence.’


Nursing in Practice

Cleaners urged to get superbug training

Wednesday 28th May 2008

A recent survey carried out by Econo-Med at the Newcastle and Cardiff Nursing in Practice 2008 Events found that more than 90% of medical professionals thought that cleaners could benefit from more training on cross-contamination.

Andrew Large, Director General of the Cleaning Support Services Association (CSSA) comments: “All NHS trusts need to recognise the value that cleaning plays in fighting healthcare associated infections. The NHS should provide necessary funds and time to enable appropriate training for cleaning staff.”

The survey also revealed that 75% of medical staff felt that there is not enough patient awareness on the dangers caused by superbugs and 11% of medical staff confessed they had not received cross-contamination training.

Derek Butler Chairman of MRSA Action UK remarks: “It is down to our government to raise the public’s awareness of the dangers caused by superbugs. They should follow Ireland’s example by running a national advertising campaign which highlights the hazards caused by healthcare-associated infections. Combatting cross-infection and superbugs is an all or nothing issue. There is no place for people or organisations to sit on the fence.”


Cleaners urged to get superbug training

Letters to the Telegraph

27 May 2008

A surrender to superbugs

Sir- The number of people killed by MRSA, Clostridium difficile and other hospital-acquired infections is possibly higher than the 8,000 a year recorded on death certificates (report, May 23).

A recent study of hospital records by the Office for National Statistics showed that test results often do not arrive for several days, by which time the deceased has already been given a certificate.

The Government’s own target is only to halve the number of cases of MRSA, not to eradicate it. This is a lamentable failure of will, especially when compared with the Netherlands and Scandinavian countries where a “search and destroy” policy has proved very effective.

The “deep-clean” exercise this spring showed how distant from reality the Department of Health’s thinking is. What is the point if the next day the bathrooms, toilets and wards are just as disgusting as they were before?

The funds available to the NHS are three times what we had 20 years ago. How long until the money is spent on sending patients home well?

Edwina Currie Jones, South Nutfield, Surrey


Drug “may hold cure to MRSA bug”

Tuesday 20th May 2008

A Brighton-based pharmaceutical firm is working on a new drug that it claims could hold the key to curing MRSA.

The bactericidal compound, codenamed XF-73, has been manufactured by Destiny Pharma, which says the drug actually kills bacteria unlike most antibiotics which only prevent its growth.

The drug, applied as a gel into patients’ noses, killed the five most common MRSA strains in laboratory tests and, despite 55 exposures, no strain developed resistance to the drug in the same way it does to antibiotics.

Destiny Pharma’s chief executive Dr Bill Love, told the Independent on Sunday: “If it goes through clinical trials successfully, it really is a completely fundamental breakthrough. The potential is really quite amazing.”

He said he hoped NHS strategic health authorities, responsible for commissioning treatment and deep cleans, would be willing to pay for XF-73 if it was approved by the NICE, the paper reported.

Derek Butler, chairman of the campaign group MRSA Action, cautiously welcomed the development and called on the government to provide more funding for research into reducing infections.

He said: “We are interested in anything in the development of cures or treatment for MRSA. However, we have reservations. I think more tests need to be done on it.”

Copyright - PA Business 2008



Cure hope for killer bug MRSA

By EMMA MORTON

Health Editor

Published: 19/05/2008

BRITISH scientists have developed a drug they claim holds the key to stamping out MRSA.

XF-73 destroys the killer bug - while antibiotics only halt its growth, if they work at all.

XF-73, smeared up patients- noses in a gel, could now be rolled out to hospitals by 2011.

Official figures show 1,087 people were hit by MRSA in the last three months of 2007.

Destiny Pharma, developers of the new drug, say the infection kills at least 1,600 a year.

Bosses claim XF-73 overcomes the biggest problem in tackling the mutating bug - its resistance to antibiotics - by destroying it outright.

The drug killed the five most common MRSA strains in lab tests.

No strain developed resistance, even after 55 exposures.

Destiny Pharma’s chief executive Dr Bill Love said: “The potential is quite amazing. It really is a fundamental breakthrough.”

A spokesman for the company, based in Brighton, East Sussex, added: “This result is the latest of many which have shown XF-73’s high potential.”

Campaigners gave the new drug a cautious welcome. Derek Butler, of MRSA Action, said: “We are very hopeful - but bacteria have a habit getting round new treatments.”

The Department of Health added: “This is interesting research.”

It said MRSA rates in hospitals were down a third on last year.

http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/article1178608.ece



WONDER GEL WILL CURE MRSA

CURE: Experts hail superbug breakthrough

Monday May 19,2008

By Sara Dixon

BRITISH scientists last night claimed to be on the brink of finding a cure for the deadly superbug MRSA.

They say the “amazing” new drug could be ready to stop the spread of the killer virus in just three years.

The revolutionary compound, codename XF-73, is easily applied in a gel to the nostrils.

It succeeds where traditional antibiotics fail because it kills the virus outright - rather than merely trying to contain it - by attacking the membrane and preventing it from mutating.

The news comes just as figures are to be released this week to show deaths linked to MRSA rising by more than a third in just one year. Campaigners last night urged the Government to speed up any tests necessary to get it on the market. First, it will have to be approved by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence.

Geoff Martin, of the NHS pressure group Health Emergency said: “We cannot afford any bureaucratic delays in terms of rolling this out, because the need is urgent.

“We can’t cut corners, but there should be no holds barred in making sure this is out there as quickly as possible.

“We don’t want to see local hospitals and trusts saying they can’t afford the programme.

“The Government should give a clear-cut assurance that there will be no financial constraints in terms of making this happen.”

Initial clinical trials have already been undertaken by developers Destiny Pharma, based in Brighton.

They show that the ‘bacteriocidal’ compound has stopped five strands of the highly infectious bacteria dead in its tracks. Even after 55 repeat exposures to the virus, the new drug kept destroying it long past the stage when the superbug would have become resistant to antibiotics.

The researchers, led by chief executive Dr Bill Love, also hope the gel could eventually be used to combat C.diff, a second superbug that kills thousands more vulnerable patients in Britain.

Hospital staff and patients will be able to protect themselves by applying a drug-impregnated gel to their nostrils. Scientists chose this method because many humans acquire and carry the MRSA virus through the nose.

It is hoped the compound could eventually be turned into a drug which can be injected, and which can be used against all strands of MRSA.

In England and Wales 1,700 people died from MRSA in 2006, according to a report to be published this week by the Office of National Statistics. The same year 6,000 people died from C.diff gut infection in hospital, four times as many as in 2001.

The creators of XF-73 hope to get their drug on the market by 2011. They believe it will then be ready to stop the spread of the virus. Within six years they claim it will be routinely used to cure patients with MRSA.

Dr Love said the potential for the drug was “amazing” He added: “If it goes through clinical trials successfully it really is a complete breakthrough.”

Derek Butler, chairman of MRSA Action, said: “We need to be careful in saying we have beaten the resistance problem.

“Bacteria have a habit of being able to get round any treatments we develop. But we are very hopeful.”

A Department of Health spokesman said: “This is interesting research, and we maintain a close watch on these and other emerging findings.”

http://www.dailyexpress.co.uk/posts/view/44939



New drug to kill MRSA superbug” on the anvil

May 19th, 2008

British scientists are testing a new drug that they claim would wipe out the most dangerous strains of superbug MRSA.

The team at Brighton-based Destiny Pharma is testing the drug that may protect against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacteria (MRSA).

The new drug is applied as a gel into patients’ noses. It contains a compound with a codename XF-73.

The trials showed that the superbug did not develop resistance to the compound despite being exposed to it 55 times.

Destiny Pharma revealed that XF-73 compound could destroy five most common strains of MRSA in tests.

Dr Bill Love, company’s chief executive told the Independent that if the drug clears all the trials it would be a “completely fundamental breakthrough”.

“The potential is really quite amazing,” BBC quoted Love, as saying

However, Derek Butler, chairman of MRSA Action said that more tests are needed to prove drug efficiency.

“Bacteria have a habit of being able to get round any treatments we develop,” he said

“I think more tests need to be done on it. We need to be careful in saying we have beaten the resistance problem, he added.

He further said that he was interested in “anything in the development of cures or treatment for MRSA” and was optimistic the research would prove beneficial.

Last September, Prime Minister Gordon Brown ordered all hospitals to deep clean, to tackle the spread of infections, such as MRSA. (ANI)

http://www.thaindian.com/newsportal/india-news/new-drug-to-kill-mrsa-superbug-on-the-anvil_10050347.html



Guarded welcome for superbug ‘cure’

James Sturcke

Sunday May 18 2008

Campaigners warned against premature celebration today over reports that a new drug designed to eradicate hospital superbugs had put a cure within sight.

Derek Butler, the chairman of the campaign group MRSA Action, cautiously welcomed the development of a drug that is claimed to destroy the five most common strains of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus(MRSA), but said further testing was needed.

“We are interested in anything in the development of cures or treatment for MRSA. However, we have reservations,” he said.

“I think more tests need to be done on it. We need to be careful in saying we have beaten the resistance problem. Bacteria have a habit of being able to get round any treatments we develop.

“But it is a good move and we are very hopeful.”

The new compound, codenamed XF-73, is being developed by scientists at Destiny Pharma in southern England.

The new drug is designed as a gel to be smeared inside the nostrils to prevent infection. The active compound sticks to MRSA bacteria through “electrostatic binding”, destroying cell membranes. Many current MRSA treatments are “bacteriostatic” meaning they prevent the growth of bacteria but do not kill them.

The research was led by Destiny Pharma’s chief executive, Dr Bill Love. He said: “We are cautiously optimistic. Our research has been peer reviewed and the compound is currently undergoing tests on people.

“If all goes well it would be a major advance and we hope that in three to four years it might be available to protect against MRSA,” Love told guardian.co.uk.

Love added that testing showed XF-73 to be effective after 55 exposures to MRSA, which begins to become resistant to drugs in current use after a handful of exposures.

He told the Independent on Sunday that he hoped NHS strategic health authorities, responsible for spending money on treatment and deep cleans, would be willing to pay for XF-73 if it was approved by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence.

In a statement, the company said: “Destiny Pharma has now completed its phase one clinical trials and this result is the latest of many which have shown XF-73’s high potential.”

The firm presented its findings to the European congress on clinical microbiology and infectious diseases in Barcelona last month.

A Department of Health spokesman said: “This is interesting research, and we maintain a close watch on these and other emerging findings in the field.

“Reducing healthcare-associated infections is a top priority for the NHS, and we are already seeing significant reductions in healthcare-associated MRSA bloodstream infections, with rates down by 30% compared with the same period last year.”

Destiny Pharma said MRSA claims at least 1,600 lives a year in the UK. The company was established in 1997 and XF-73 is its first drug in development, Love said.

The latest figures from the Health Protection Agency showed there were 1,087 cases of MRSA from October to the end of December last year.

This article was first published on guardian.co.uk on Sunday May 18 2008. It was last updated at 14:56 on May 18 2008.



Could a dab of gel to the nose beat superbug MRSA?

18/05/08 - News section

British scientists have developed a drug they claim can destroy the most virulent strain of MRSA.

The compound XF-73 has been shown to wipe out the five most common varieties of the antibiotic-resistant infection.

The superbug did not develop any resistance to the treatment even after being exposed to it 55 times.

Bristol-based Destiny Pharma, which is now carrying out human trials on the drug, said that by 2011 it could be being used to stop the spread of MRSA on wards, saving hundreds of lives a year.

This week, official figures will reveal that rates of MRSA-related deaths have risen by more than a third since 2001. Over the same period the number of deaths linked to the superbug C. difficile quadrupled.

Dr Bill Love, chief executive of Destiny Pharma, said that within six years XF-73 could be being used routinely to cure patients already infected with MRSA, and it might eventually be used against the superbug C. difficile.

“If it goes through clinical trials successfully, it really is a completely fundamental breakthrough,” he said.

“The potential is really quite amazing.”

Crucially, the compound works in a different-way to antibiotics, many of which simply prevent MRSA from multiplying in the body. XF-73 works by destroying the superbug’s cell membrane.

It could be applied via a gel to sites such as the nostril - a common source of MRSA.

The research was unveiled at the annual European Conference of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases in Barcelona.

Derek Butler, of the campaign group MRSA Action, said the discovery could have been made much earlier if the Government had put more money into research.

On Thursday the Office for National Statistics will reveal that MRSA was mentioned on almost 1,700 death certificates in 2006. In the same year more than 6,000 died after contracting C. diff in hospitals across England and Wales - more than four times the number who died from it in 2001.

However the rate of superbug infections has begun to fall in recent months.

A spokesman for the Department of Health said: “This is interesting research, and we maintain a close watch on these and other emerging findings in the field.

“Reducing healthcare-associated infections is a top priority for the NHS and we are already seeing significant reductions in healthcare-associated MRSA bloodstream infections, with rates down by 30 per cent compared with the same period last year.”

Find this story at http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=567091&in_page_id=1770

(c)2008 Associated New Media



British Scientists Fight Killer MRSA Bug

Sunday May 18, 2008

A new drug to kill off the fatal hospital bug MRSA is being tested by British scientists and they hope it will be ready for patients within three years.

Most antibiotics used to treat hospital bugs such as MRSA are bacteriostatic, meaning they prevent the growth of bacteria.

But pharmaceutical company Destiny Pharma believes its compound - codenamed XF-73 - could hold the key to stamping out the potentially-fatal bug.

A study showed that, even after 55 repeat exposures, MRSA bacteria did not develop resistance to the drug - which is applied as a gel into patients’ noses - in the same way it does to antibiotics.

The research was led by Destiny Pharma’s chief executive Dr Bill Love: “If it goes through clinical trials successfully, it really is a completely fundamental breakthrough,” he told the Independent on Sunday.

“The potential is really quite amazing.”

He said he hoped NHS strategic health authorities, responsible for spending money on treatment and deep cleans, would be willing to pay for XF-73 if it was approved by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence.

The firm presented its findings to the European Congress on Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases in Barcelona last month.

XF-73 destroyed the five most common strains of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacteria (MRSA) in laboratory tests, according to the study.

Five of the most common strains of MRSA were tested against the drug and an antibiotic was used as a control.

Derek Butler, chairman of the campaign group MRSA Action, cautiously welcomed the development and called on the Government to provide more funding for research into reducing infections.

He said: “We need to be careful in saying we have beaten the resistance problem. Bacteria have a habit of being able to get round any treatments we develop.

“But it is a good move and we are very hopeful.”

Last September, the Prime Minister announced that every NHS hospital in England would be deep-cleaned in a bid to tackle bugs such as MRSA and Clostridium difficile.



New drug ‘can kill MRSA superbug’

Sunday, 18 May 2008

British scientists are working on a drug which they say can destroy the most virulent strains of superbug MRSA.

Researchers at Brighton-based Destiny Pharma are testing the drug in the hope it can be used in hospitals by 2011.

Official figures show in the last three months of last year there were more than 1,000 cases of MRSA in England.

Campaign group MRSA Action cautiously welcomed the new findings and urged the government to provide more funding for research into fighting infections.

Pharmaceutical company Destiny Pharma believes its compound - codenamed XF-73 - could be a “breakthrough” in the battle against the hospital superbug.

A study of the new drug, which is applied as a gel into patients’ noses, showed methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacteria (MRSA) did not develop resistance to the compound despite being exposed to it 55 times.

The company’s chief executive, Dr Bill Love, told the Independent on Sunday that if the drug passed its clinical trials, it would be a “completely fundamental breakthrough”.

“The potential is really quite amazing,” he said.

He added that he hoped NHS strategic health authorities would back the drug if it won the approval of the National Institute for Clinical Excellence.

More tests ‘needed’

The firm presented its findings to the European Congress on Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases in Barcelona last month.

The XF-73 compound managed to destroy the five most common strains of MRSA in tests, the company said.

Derek Butler, chairman of MRSA Action, said he was interested in “anything in the development of cures or treatment for MRSA” and was hopeful the research would prove beneficial.

But he added: “I think more tests need to be done on it. We need to be careful in saying we have beaten the resistance problem.

“Bacteria have a habit of being able to get round any treatments we develop.”

A Department of Health spokesman said “a close watch” would be maintained on all emerging findings regarding the superbug.

The latest official figures show recent drops in the number of new MRSA infections seem to have stalled.

Cases in England rose by 0.6% between October and December 2007 to 1,087, the Health Protection Agency said last month.

It comes after a series of continuous drops in infections since April 2006.

Last September, Prime Minister Gordon Brown ordered all hospitals to deep clean, to tackle the spread of infections, such as MRSA.

But the Conservatives said the programme was a shambles as not all the money promised to cover the costs of cleaning had materialised.

Cleaning firms said ministers should instead have properly funded day-to-day cleaning.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/7406832.stm



Scientists work on ‘cure’ for MRSA

Updated 09.19 Sun May 18 2008

Keywords: deepclean, deep clean, deep-clean, hospital, XF-73, NHS, disease, Dr Bill Love, Destiny Pharma, MRSA Action UK, Derek Butler, MRSA

British scientists are working on a new drug which they believe could herald a breakthrough in efforts to cure MRSA.

Researchers are carrying out trials of a bactericidal compound, which they claim actually kills bacteria, with a view to developing a product for use in hospitals within three years.

Researchers are carrying out trials of a bactericidal compound, which they claim actually kills bacteria

Brighton-based pharmaceutical company Destiny Pharma believes its compound - codenamed XF-73 - could hold the key to stamping out the potentially-fatal bug.

A study showed that, even after 55 repeat exposures, MRSA bacteria did not develop resistance to the drug - which is applied as a gel into patients’ noses.

Destiny Pharma’s chief executive Dr Bill Love, who led the research, said: “If it goes through clinical trials successfully, it really is a completely fundamental breakthrough. The potential is really quite amazing.”

He said he hoped NHS strategic health authorities, responsible for spending money on treatment and deep cleans, would be willing to pay for XF-73 if it was approved by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence.

Derek Butler, chairman of the campaign group MRSA Action, cautiously welcomed the development and called on the Government to provide more funding for research into reducing infections.

He said: “We are interested in anything in the development of cures or treatment for MRSA.

“We need to be careful in saying we have beaten the resistance problem. Bacteria have a habit of being able to get round any treatments we develop.”

The latest figures from the Health Protection Agency showed there were 1,087 cases of MRSA from October to the end of December last year.

Last September, Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced that every NHS hospital in England would be deep-cleaned in a bid to tackle bugs such as MRSA and Clostridium difficile.

But the programme, which finished in March, came in for criticism from opposition parties, contract cleaners and the NHS Confederation.

(c) Independent Television News Limited 2008. All rights reserved.


MRSA: UK scientists ‘close to a treatment’

By Tom Chivers and agencies

Last Updated: 4:36PM BST 18/05/2008

British scientists believe they are close to a new treatment for the dangerous ‘superbug’ MRSA.

The new compound, codenamed XF-73, is currently being trialled with a view to developing a product for use in hospitals within three years.

Unlike most anti-MRSA drugs which just prevent the bacterium growing and breeding, XF-73 is intended actually to kill the microbes.

And as studies suggest that MRSA does not develop resistance to the drug, even after repeated exposures, researchers are optimistic that it could hold the key to stamping out the disease.

“If it goes through clinical trials successfully, it really is a completely fundamental breakthrough,” said Dr Bill Love, chief executive of pharmaceutical company Destiny Pharma, who are developing the drug, a nasal gel.

“The potential is really quite amazing.”

He said he hoped the NHS would be willing to pay for the drug if it was approved by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), the Independent on Sunday reports.

Derek Butler, chairman of the campaign group MRSA Action, cautiously welcomed the development and called on the Government to provide more funding for research into reducing infections.

He said: “We are interested in anything in the development of cures or treatment for MRSA.

“However, we have reservations. I think more tests need to be done on it.

“We need to be careful in saying we have beaten the resistance problem. Bacteria have a habit of being able to get round any treatments we develop.

“But it is a good move and we are very hopeful.”

A Department of Health spokesman said: “This is interesting research, and we maintain a close watch on these and other emerging findings in the field.

“Reducing healthcare-associated infections is a top priority for the NHS, and we are already seeing significant reductions in healthcare-associated MRSA bloodstream infections, with rates down by 30 per cent compared with the same period last year.”

In a statement, Destiny Pharma said: “Destiny Pharma has now completed its Phase I clinical trials and this result is the latest of many which have shown XF-73’s high potential.”

The firm presented its findings to the European Congress on Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases in Barcelona last month.

XF-73 destroyed the five most common strains of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacteria (MRSA) in laboratory tests, according to the study.

Five of the most common strains of MRSA were tested against the drug and an antibiotic was used as a control.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1981019/MRSA-UK-scientists-’close-to-a-treatment’.html



Guarded welcome for superbug 'cure'

James Sturcke

guardian.co.uk

Sunday May 18 2008

Campaigners warned against premature celebration today over reports that a new drug designed to eradicate hospital superbugs had put a cure within sight.

Derek Butler, the chairman of the campaign group MRSA Action, cautiously welcomed the development of a drug that is claimed to destroy the five most common strains of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus(MRSA), but said further testing was needed.

“We are interested in anything in the development of cures or treatment for MRSA. However, we have reservations,” he said.

“I think more tests need to be done on it. We need to be careful in saying we have beaten the resistance problem. Bacteria have a habit of being able to get round any treatments we develop.

“But it is a good move and we are very hopeful.”

The new compound, codenamed XF-73, is being developed by scientists at Destiny Pharma in southern England.

The new drug is designed as a gel to be smeared inside the nostrils to prevent infection. The active compound sticks to MRSA bacteria through “electrostatic binding”, destroying cell membranes. Many current MRSA treatments are “bacteriostatic” meaning they prevent the growth of bacteria but do not kill them.

The research was led by Destiny Pharma’s chief executive, Dr Bill Love. He said: “We are cautiously optimistic. Our research has been peer reviewed and the compound is currently undergoing tests on people.

“If all goes well it would be a major advance and we hope that in three to four years it might be available to protect against MRSA,” Love told guardian.co.uk.

Love added that testing showed XF-73 to be effective after 55 exposures to MRSA, which begins to become resistant to drugs in current use after a handful of exposures.

He told the Independent on Sunday that he hoped NHS strategic health authorities, responsible for spending money on treatment and deep cleans, would be willing to pay for XF-73 if it was approved by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence.

In a statement, the company said: “Destiny Pharma has now completed its phase one clinical trials and this result is the latest of many which have shown XF-73’s high potential.”

The firm presented its findings to the European congress on clinical microbiology and infectious diseases in Barcelona last month.

A Department of Health spokesman said: “This is interesting research, and we maintain a close watch on these and other emerging findings in the field.

“Reducing healthcare-associated infections is a top priority for the NHS, and we are already seeing significant reductions in healthcare-associated MRSA bloodstream infections, with rates down by 30% compared with the same period last year.”

Destiny Pharma said MRSA claims at least 1,600 lives a year in the UK. The company was established in 1997 and XF-73 is its first drug in development, Love said.

The latest figures from the Health Protection Agency showed there were 1,087 cases of MRSA from October to the end of December last year.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2008/may/18/mrsa.nhs



Scientists ‘on brink of cure’ for superbug

Simple procedure of placing a gel inside the nose could provide ‘major breakthrough’ within three years in hospitals’ battle against MRSA

By Jane Merrick and Brian Brady

Sunday, 18 May 2008

MRSA: The cure

Scientists may be on the brink of a cure for MRSA, after developing a drug that could be used in hospitals within three years.

A simple procedure of placing a gel inside the nose could hold the key to eradicating the superbug responsible for the deaths of more than 1,600 patients in the UK every year.

A British research firm yesterday claimed that their discovery represented a “major breakthrough” in the battle against MRSA. The firm, Destiny Pharma, is already carrying out human trials on the drug.

The compound, codenamed XF-73, destroys the five most common strains of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacteria in laboratory tests in a peer-reviewed study. It works in a different way from antibiotics, which are becoming increasingly ineffective, as MRSA builds up resistance to them.

News of the development comes amid renewed controversy over poor standards of cleanliness in hospitals. Yesterday, the parents of a 17-year-old girl said they would sue the “filthy” hospital where she died after contracting the superbug. Samantha Fallon was put on an “overcrowded” general ward at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire, where she was being treated for a virus, said Keith and Sue Fallon.

And this week the Government’s infections adviser will warn that overprescription of antibiotics by hospitals is causing a rise in superbugs, including MRSA and Clostridium difficile. Professor Mark Wilcox of LeedsUniversity said overuse of antibiotics has led to the increasing resistance of MRSA and C. diff to the drugs.

The new drug, developed by Destiny Pharma, could be crucial in saving lives because MRSA has shown no resistance to it, even after 55 repeat exposures. By 2011, XF-73 could be used to prevent the spread of infection in hospital wards, say researchers. Within six years, they claim, it could routinely cure patients already infected with MRSA.

However, the drug would need to be approved by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (Nice) as it would be likely to cost the NHS millions of pounds. Continuing human trials mean there is a risk that XF-73 could follow other promised treatments that have bitten the dust.

New figures obtained by The Independent on Sunday show that more than a third of new-generation hospitals have failed to meet strict targets for reducing MRSA rates on their wards.

Some 35 out of 83 foundation hospitals admit they have had more cases than expected up to the end of December, despite being ordered by the Government to undertake a “deep clean”.

The Health minister, Lord Darzi, who is conducting a review of the NHS, has suggested there should be MRSA-screening of patients undergoing elective surgery to prevent its taking hold in hospitals. While MRSA infection rates have stabilised in the past two years, deaths from C. diff are three times the rate of MRSA and rising.

The new compound works on such bacteria by sticking to them through “electrostatic binding”, destroying the cell membrane. Many antibiotics used against MRSA are “bacteriostatic” - which means they merely prevent the growth of bacteria, rather than killing them.

Five of the most common strains of MRSA were tested against the drug. A topical antibiotic was used as a control.

Both XF-73 and the antibiotic were separately exposed to the strains of MRSA 55 times, over as many days. Each time 99 per cent of the bacteria were destroyed, leaving the strongest 1 per cent to survive.

This was allowed to grow again before being exposed to the XF-73 and the control antibiotic. The scientists then measured how much of the drug was needed to kill the same amount of bacteria for each exposure.

Dr Bill Love, chief executive of Destiny Pharma, said XF-73 was crucial in fighting MRSA and could be used against C. diff at some stage.

It would also be more effective than deep-cleaning, because the drug would destroy MRSA carried on and transferred between people, he said. “If it goes through clinical trials successfully, it really is a completely fundamental breakthrough. The potential is really quite amazing.

“We know that bacteria can very rapidly develop resistance to traditional antibiotics. This is the reason why there is a healthcare crisis at the moment.”

The work by the Brighton firm was unveiled at the annual European Conference of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases in Barcelona last month.

In human trials, the compound is contained in a tiny amount of gel placed inside the nostril. This would prevent the spread of MRSA in hospitals and in the community. Dr Love said tablet and injection forms of XF-73 could be in use within a few years. He hoped NHS strategic health authorities would be willing to pay for XF-73 if it was approved by Nice, adding: “In terms of impact, it would actually save hospitals money. So it is a no-brainer.”

Derek Butler, of the campaign group MRSA Action, welcomed the development. But he said the advance could have been made much earlier if the Government had ploughed more resources into the efforts to reduce infections.

A Department of Health spokesperson said: “This is interesting research, and we maintain a close watch on these and other emerging findings in the field.

“Reducing healthcare-associated infections is a top priority for the NHS, and we are already seeing significant reductions in healthcare-associated MRSA bloodstream infections, with rates down by 30 per cent compared with the same period last year,” he said.

‘Five years later I’m still in constant pain’

James Wollacott was 19 years old when he damaged his knee ligaments. A keen roller-hockey player, he thought everything would be fine when surgeons at St Mary’s Hospital, London, repaired the damage in May 2003. But the wound became infected and when MRSA took hold he nearly lost his life. Five years and several operations later, Mr Wollacott cannot walk any great distance and is in constant pain. He has had to abandon plans to become an electrician. Still fighting for compensation, Mr Wollacott says his life has been ruined: “From the knee down I get excruciating pain. I had always been active and that’s what’s killing me now - not being able to play sports or run around. I’ve done nothing for five years. It’s driving me crazy. I’m watching my mates play sport and I’m sitting here letting the world go by.”

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/scientists-on-brink-of-cure-for-superbug-830345.html



Schoolgirl dies from MRSA after going into hospital for treatment of simple virus

Last updated at 17:48pm on 16th May 2008

A devastated family today vowed to sue the “filthy” hospital where their beautiful teenage daughter died after contracting the killer MRSA superbug.

A-level student Samantha Fallon, 17, was admitted to hospital suffering from a virus and had a bone marrow sample taken from her hip.

But days later she was crippled with back pain and suffered a series of terrifying fits before eventually succumbing to multiple organ failure.

A-level student Samantha Fallon, 17, was admitted to hospital suffering from a virus but died within a month from MRSA

Parents Keith and Sue Fallon vowed to sue the University Hospital of North Staffordshire claiming Sam was put in an “overcrowded” general ward and not a sterile specialist one due to a lack of beds.

Keith, 42, said: “A vulnerable young girl with a known condition went into the system and didn’t come out again.

“At first she was making good progress but then they took a bone marrow sample from her hip, in a crowded general ward, she developed MRSA.

“It was shocking how quickly it struck her down. If we had the money and could have put her in a private hospital she might still be here.

“I want to make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else.”

Her mum Sue, who lived with Sam in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffs, where she studied photography and media, slammed the “grubby” conditions she stayed in.

In 2006, the hospital was rated eighth worst out of 174 health trusts for its number of MRSA cases - a massive 59 cases in a six-month period.

Sue, 42, who is divorced from Keith, said: “I can only describe the wards Sam was on for the first two weeks before she was diagnosed as filthy.

“I washed her every day. There was a big sticky patch on the floor which never moved and dust and dirt everywhere - it just looked grubby.

“She was later moved to a specialist blood ward, which was spotless, and the doctors said they were getting her condition under control.

“She was starting to eat and put on weight, and was picking up until she got back pain, which was MRSA.

“After that she went really downhill, it was frightening. The next day she was delirious then started having fits and eventually she slipped away.

“She should never have got this infection and if she hadn’t I believe she would still be with us. She was a happy, beautiful 17-year-old with everything to live for.”

Pretty Sam had an auto-immune liver condition for which she had been taking medication since the age of 12 and was living a normal life.

But she fell ill and went into hospital last month while studying at Newcastle College, near the home she shared with mum Sue and sister Alex, 12.

The death certificate listed Sam’s probable cause of death as multi-organ failure, MRSA septicaemia and a viral infection.

Divorced Keith, who lives in Northleach, Glos., who lives with his new partner Francesca, and their toddler Erin, said his daughter was “the life and soul of everything”.

He added: “In hospital Sam never mentioned being ill, she was only worried about having to re-take her photography course.

“She was very artistic and stylish and extremely popular. We were best friends and she came to Northleach quite a lot.

“She made friends almost the moment she got here, and was so well-liked and loved. We’ll miss her so much. She was the life and soul of everything.”

There were 71 MRSA cases at the hospital in the year ending this March, compared with 100 the previous year, and 118 the year before.

A hospital spokesman said: “It would be inappropriate for us to discuss the circumstances at this stage.”

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=566850&in_page_id=1770



Hospital praised for fighting MRSA

Winchester’s Royal Hampshire County is defeating hospital super-bug

Thursday 8 May 2008

The RoyalCounty Hospital is the first hospital to use the new procedure of prescription only cannulae, and has reduced its MRSA bacteraemia infection rate to zero in the last six months. It’s a simple technique that is helping to save lives, cannulae are only used when absolutely necessary, and when they are used they are strictly monitored.

Nearly 5,000 cases were reported last year, and if the Winchester procedure was mirrored nationally then infections would be reduced by a third that’s 1,770 fewer cases. Derek Butler who travelled 200 miles to see the procedure said

“If this hospital can do it there is no reason why other hospitals can do it, and the government should support this hospital and shout it from the rooftops”

Mary Stanley reports

From The Times

May 8, 2008


New rules cut MRSA cases at the Royal Hampshire

Nigel Hawkes

WINCHESTER Tougher rules on the use of intravenous fluid tubes have been shown to cut the incidence of MRSA infections

No new cases of MRSA have been reported at the Royal Hampshire County Hospital in Winchester and the Andover War Memorial Hospital since last November when the Winchester and Eastleigh Healthcare NHS Trust introduced the new rules.

Since then use of cannulae has had to be authorised by a specialist and signed off by a doctor to ensure that they are used only when absolutely necessary. Once in place, the tubes are flushed with a saline solution and inspected daily.

In 2007-08 the Trust had 11 MRSA bloodstream infections - one under the maximum level that the Government says is acceptable for a trust of its size. Four of the cases were believed to have been cannula-related. The trust believes that if the same practice were adopted nationwide by the NHS, MRSA levels would fall sharply.

Sister Rachel Wright, who worked with Dr Gordon to implement the changes, said: “It just illustrates that simple measures, when strictly followed, can work.”

Derek Butler, chair of MRSA Action UK , welcomed the new practice and called for it be taken up by other trusts around the country.

He said: “It is an excellent step forward, a big improvement. I applaud what they are doing and I would like to see it rolled out nationally.”

Cannulation involves a needle being used to insert a tiny, flexible plastic sheath under the skin.

The needle is then removed and the medicine or fluids can be introduced through the sheath, which remains just under the skin.

Previously, patients who were likely to need IV fluids or drugs in this way were given a cannula as a routine part of their medical care. As well as its new cannulation procedures, the trust is implementing hand hygiene audits and deep cleaning as ordered by the NHS.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/health/article3897596.ece



MRSA ‘cut by stopping injections’

Thursday, 8 May 2008

A hospital trust has claimed to have eliminated MRSA bloodstream infections by stopping the routine practice of administering intravenous injections.

Winchester and Eastleigh Healthcare NHS Trust has instead begun prescribing the insertion of cannulae - a small tube used for giving intravenous fluids.


The government has set a target to halve MRSA rates

Doctors are able to monitor the tubes more closely for signs of infection.

The trust said since the introduction last November there have been no new cases of MRSA infections.

This figure covers all forms of MRSA, including bloodstream infections (also known as bacteraemia) and wound infections.

This compares to 2007/08 when there was 11 reported bloodstream infections. The maximum level set as acceptable by the government is 12.

‘Big improvement’

The trust, which runs the Royal Hampshire County Hospital in Winchester and the Andover War Memorial Hospital, believes that if the same practice was adopted nationwide MRSA levels would drop dramatically.

Previously, patients who were likely to need intravenous fluids or drugs in this way were given a cannula as a routine part of their medical care.

But now the technique can only be prescribed by specialists trained in their insertion and they are signed off by a doctor.

Once inserted, the cannula tube is flushed with a saline solution and inspected on a daily basis.

A scorecard is then used to regularly rate its appearance and spot any irregularities or signs of infection.

Dr Chris Gordon, consultant physician and divisional director for medicine at the Trust, said: “It is well known that cannulae can cause bloodstream infections, such as MRSA, which is why we were so keen to make these changes.”

Derek Butler, chair of MRSA Action UK, said: “It is an excellent step forward, a big improvement. I applaud what they are doing and I would like to see it rolled out nationally.

“It will help fight MRSA levels as another piece of best practice.”

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/hampshire/7390544.stm


Hampshire Chronicle News
Hospital winning MRSA fight

Thursday, 8 May 2008

WINCHESTER’S Royal Hampshire County Hospital claims it has discovered a new way to help fight the spread of hospital infections.

A doctor and nursing sister at the Romsey Road hospital have found a “simple” way to cut MRSA rates, which could have national implications.

Since a change in policy was introduced at the hospital six months ago, there have been no new cases of the deadly superbug.

Now Dr Chris Gordon, consultant physician and divisional director of medicine at Winchester and Eastleigh Healthcare NHS Trust, believes it could slash infection rates and save lives in hospitals across the UK.

It involves better management of what is called a cannula, a thin tube inserted by needle under the skin to administer intravenous fluids.

The trust, which runs the RHCH and Andover War Memorial Hospital, reported 11 cases of MRSA in 2007/8. Four of the cases, a third, were linked to cannulae.

Dr Gordon said: “It is well known that cannulae can cause bloodstream infections such as MRSA which is why we were so keen to make these changes.

“If we can prevent these, we can reduce our bloodstream infections by a third.

“If all trusts did that, just imagine what the national picture would be.”

Around 5,000 people picked up MRSA bloodstream infections in the UK last year.

If one third (1,700) of these are preventable by improved cannula care, it could save significant patient suffering and the NHS millions of pounds a year.

Previously, patients at the Winchester hospital were given cannulae as a routine part of their medical care if they needed intravenous fluids or drugs.

But since last November, they have had to be prescribed by a doctor, used only when absolutely necessary and inserted by specialists.

The cannula is flushed with saline solution and monitored daily by trained medical assistants to spot early signs of infection, using a scorecard to rate its appearance.

The trust is believed to be the first to introduce both prescribing of cannulae and strict monitoring.

Dr Gordon had the idea for the two-pronged policy change while Sister Rachel Wright and her team implemented it.

Sister Wright said: “We always try to follow best practice, but with this I think it is fair to say we have gone one better.

“It just illustrates that simple measures, when strictly followed, can work.”

Patients on medical wards were the first to benefit from the new regime. Because of the impressive results, it will now be rolled out across the rest of the hospital trust.

Other measures to combat superbugs have included a clampdown on hand hygiene, deep cleaning of wards and stricter antibiotic prescribing.

Derek Butler, chairman of MRSA Action UK, was today (Thursday) due to visit the hospital to meet Dr Gordon and senior managers.

Shadow Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley MP, will also be visiting.

Steve Brine, Conservative prospective parliamentary candidate for Winchester, said: “The Trust ambition to have an infection free hospital in Winchester is exactly where we should be aiming and it’s nothing less than local people expect.

“There will always be set-backs along the way but we should congratulate those working at the Royal Hampshire for really setting the standard in such a bold and innovative way.”

6:43am today

http://www.thisishampshire.net/news/hampshirechroniclenews/

display.var.2254581.0.hospital_winning_mrsa_fight.php



MRSA cases on the increase according to Health Protection Agency figures

25/04/2008

The bid to beat MRSA has stalled, Health Protection Agency figures reveal.

Despite the Government’s “deep clean” drive to stamp out the superbug, cases in England rose by 0.6 per cent between October and December 2007 to 1,087.

Clostridium difficile fell eight per cent in patients aged 65-plus in the period. But the MRSA increase may hamper aims to halve hospital infection this year.

Derek Butler, chair of MRSA Action UK, said: “These figures show there is little progress in the battle to beat healthcare infections that affect so many people.”


Superbug shame of our Welsh hospitals

Apr 20 2008 by Matt Withers, Wales On Sunday

DOCTORS and nurses could be treating patients while carrying lethal superbugs including MRSA, we can reveal.

Many trusts do not take their staff off wards automatically if they are found to be carrying one of the most deadly hospital bugs, MRSA, which can be spread by human contact.

A survey of trusts carried out by Wales on Sunday reveals that few routinely screen staff for the infection, or even keep records of the number of employees infected with MRSA.

They claimed such a policy was in line with Welsh Assembly Government guidelines.

But a comparison with ultra-stringent techniques adopted in Europe highlights how shamefully lax our system is.

Countries like Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Holland and Denmark - which have some of the lowest superbug rates in Europe - have introduced policies like:

-”Search and destroy” investigations to eradicate infections;

- isolating infected patients so that doctors move around the hospital, rather than those carrying bugs;

- establishing isolation rooms with negative air pressure to stop germs being wafted outside;

- ensuring bed occupancy remains under 85% so hospital staff aren’t stretched.

Shadow Health Minister Jonathan Morgan yesterday described the policies implemented on the continent as “very simple, very basic things that could be done here”.

He said: “There are some very, very interesting policies here, especially the screening of patients and staff and the use of isolation rooms.

“The examples here are clearly best practice that is being used in parts of Europe and that the Assembly Government and British Government ought to be making use of and considering.

“The fact that Sweden aims to keep occupancy rates at 85% is clearly helping, whereas occupancy rates in Wales we know are 96, 97%.

“Staff and clearly patients need to be screened the way they are in Iceland. We need to be learning from best practice.”

But he did add: “The screening of patients and staff, isolation rooms, occupancy rates as low as possible - all these are very difficult to provide in the framework of the current NHS.”

A spokesman for the Welsh Assembly Government said the focus in Wales has been to reduce all healthcare associated infections “rather than concentrate on one specific organism and latest independent figures show that our efforts have paid off”.

He said: “The UK and Ireland study showed that the overall infection rate in (hospitals in Wales) was 6.4%, which is lower than England and the UK and Ireland rates.

“While healthcare associated infections will never be entirely preventable, there are measures in place to reduce the risk and spread of infection.

“It is difficult to make accurate comparisons between European countries as there are many different structures and measures in place on infection control. This can lead to misreporting and misunderstanding about such infections.

“It must be noted that while Holland is usually held up as an exemplar for infection control and does have low rates of MRSA, a study at two Dutch hospitals between 2001 and 2004 showed an overall prevalence rate for all infections of more than 10% “significantly higher than Wales or the UK.”

The Welsh approach to tackling superbugs can be neatly contrasted with that in Norway, which has a similar publicly-funded health service to Wales, but where hospital staff are regularly screened and sent home if positive.

The Norwegians’ MRSA rates are 1/80th that of the UK.

While the meticulous methods favoured on the continent have reaped rewards, the Welsh approach is backed by many unions - including one that warned that a hardline policy could damage its members’ financial well-being and career prospects.

Health trusts told Wales on Sunday that in many cases, staff are only taken off wards where there is a particularly high risk of infection.

A spokeswoman for Abertawe Bro Morgannwg NHS Trust confirmed they did not automatically take staff with MRSA off wards, but added: “In certain high risk areas, like neonatal units, staff may be excluded from work whilst receiving treatment.”

She also said they did not screen staff, saying: “The trust’s policy reflects national guidance. Screening of staff is not recommended routinely.

“Further screening, such as during outbreaks, will be carried out at the discretion of the infection control team.”

A spokesman for North East Wales NHS Trust said: “If staff are merely carrying MRSA they are treated with a topical treatment to get rid of the colonisation and are allowed to remain working, unless an infection develops.”

A spokeswoman for Conwy & Denbighshire NHS Trust said: “Generally staff are offered appropriate treatment, care and advice to help get rid of the MRSA.

“Staff are advised of adhering to appropriate infection control measures and do not generally require to be taken off their normal duties.”

And a spokeswoman for North West Wales NHS Trust said: “We don’t screen for MRSA.

“As 25% of the population carries MRSA anyway without showing any symptoms at all we wouldn’t know if a member of staff had MRSA.”

Patients’ pressure group MRSA Action said they were “really surprised how relaxed the attitude is” and demanded all medics be screened with those testing positive being taken off frontline duty.

Chairman Derek Butler said: “We need screening to try and prevent it from being spread around the hospital. Hospital staff are members of the public. They are not isolated.

“They are actually exposed to the risk of MRSA to a greater extent because they are working with it day in day out so they are more likely to contract it than you or I. The incidents are higher.

“They should screen staff. If staff are positive, remove them from frontline service. We’re not saying send them home, they can find them some other duty until they are given treatment”

“We understand the argument about it being damaging to nurses financially and damaging to their career prospects, but you’re putting the patients at risk. You can’t put a price on patients’ lives. It’s no use you or I washing our hands or taking extra precautions if staff have got it up their nose.”

Welsh Assembly Government guidelines state: “All staff should understand the impact of infection and infection prevention and control practices and recognise their role in reducing infections.

“Patients should be treated in physical environments that minimise the risk of infection.”

The Royal College of Nursing guidance on MRSA claims that forcing infected staff to stay away from work until they are clear “will lead to staff shortages and can affect the employment prospects, career opportunities and income of these staff.”

Martin Semple, clinical lead and head of the RCN Wales Institute said they shared MRSA Action’s concerns, but added: “The RCN recommends a number of approaches such as mandatory infection control training for all health and social care staff, empowering nursing staff to ensure healthcare premises are clean and decontaminated as well as an increase in the number of specifically appointed infection control nurses that can lead on to addressing infection.

“We have already seen that these steps can make a real difference and that Wales has a lower infection rate than England.”

But in contrast to Wales, Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, one of the 20 best trusts at controlling MRSA, excludes staff found to be carrying the bug.

http://icwales.icnetwork.co.uk/news/health-news/2008/04/20/superbug-shame-of-our-welsh-hospitals-91466-20791496/


The Patients Association
Doctors with MRSA continue to treat patients

The Weekly News. Week Starting 7th April

Hundreds of hospital trusts are allowing doctors and nurses testing positive for superbugs to continue to treat patients as normal.

Many trusts were found to fail to immediately remove healthcare professionals from duty even when they are carrying the potentially lethal methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), which can be spread by human contact. This in contrast to health services in countries such as Holland, who suspend staff from service immediately if they are found to be carrying MRSA, and, incidentally, have one of the lowest rates of MRSA in Europe.

The survey of hospital trusts by the Independent on Sunday also found that many trusts fail to routinely screen staff for MRSA or record those who are found to be infected.

This approach to infection control was described by many trusts as being completely within the government guidelines. The policies also claim support from a number of unions, who claim that sending infected staff home would lead to staff shortages, as well as damage healthcare staff’s financial well-being and career prospects.

However, the findings are not without controversy. Patient groups and Medical experts have criticized the approach of these Hospital Trusts, as well as the Government’s failure to clamp down on this trend.

The Chairman of MRSA Action UK, Derek Butler, commented, “This is one of the hidden problems of MRSA. We are talking about people who come in from the outside every day and could well be bringing this infection in with them. Staff should be screened regularly and if they are colonized with this infection they should be taken off duty until they are clear.”

http://www.patients-association.com/News/202



Concerns raised over MRSA-infected staff

Date: 08/04/2008

The trusts surveyed claim they are acting in line with Government guidelines but medical experts and patients groups condemned the “relaxed approach” to the infection risks posed by staff.

“This is one of the hidden problems of MRSA,” said Derek Butler, chairman of MRSA Action UK. “We are talking about people who come in from the outside every day and could well be bringing this infection in which them”.

“Staff should be screened regularly and if they are colonised with this infection they should be taken off duty until they are clear.”

Government guidelines on MRSA state that “screening of staff is not recommended routinely but if new MRSA carriers are found among the patients on a ward, staff should be asked about skin lesions.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Health said: “It is important that staff who contract MRSA are properly dealt with, both for their own and for their patients benefit.”

“Staff with known active infection with Staphylococcus aureas should not be engaged in direct clinical work until their lesions are healed.”

http://www.britsafe.org/feedcontents.aspx?id=423740



MRSA-infected medics allowed to keep working

Brian Brady, Whitehall Editor

Sunday, 6 April 2008

Hospital trusts are allowing doctors and nurses to continue treating patients even after testing positive for potentially lethal superbugs including MRSA.

Hundreds of trusts do not take their staff off wards automatically if they are found to be carrying one of the most virulent hospital bugs, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), which can be spread by human contact.

A survey of trusts carried out by The Independent on Sunday revealed that few routinely screen staff for the infection, or even keep records of the number of employees infected with MRSA. They claimed such a policy was fully in line with government guidelines. The approach is backed by many unions - including one that warned that a hardline policy could damage its members’ financial well-being and career prospects.

But the British approach to medical professionals with MRSA contrasts sharply with that in the Netherlands, where hospital staff are regularly screened and sent home if they test positive. The Dutch have one of the lowest MRSA rates in Europe.

Medical experts and patients’ pressure groups last night condemned the “relaxed” attitude to the risks posed by doctors and nurses arriving for work on NHS wards every day.

Derek Butler, the chairman of MRSA Action UK, said the Government had to impose tighter rules on staff if it was to “get serious” about tackling an infection that contributes to more than 1,600 deaths every year.

“This is one of the hidden problems of MRSA,” said Mr Butler. “We are talking about people who come in from the outside every day and could well be bringing this infection in with them.

“Staff should be screened regularly and if they are colonised with this infection they should be taken off duty until they are clear. Given that it is commonly carried in the nose, people who are carrying it should at least be required to wear a mask to prevent it being transmitted to patients.”

Government guidelines on MRSA state that “screening of staff is not recommended routinely, but if new MRSA carriers are found among the patients on a ward, staff should be asked about skin lesions”.

The advice continues: “In principle, only staff members with colonised or infected hand lesions should be off work while receiving courses of clearance therapy.”

Professor Mark Enright, a microbiologist at Imperial College London, said the fact that some 30 per cent of the population carried MRSA could mean a tougher testing regime would damage the careers of health staff by banning persistent carriers from areas of risk, including operating theatres.

The Royal College of Nursing guidance on MRSA claims that forcing infected staff to stay away from work until they are clear “will lead to staff shortages and can affect the employment prospects, career opportunities and income of these staff”.

But Professor Enright said: “There is an argument for tighter rules on staff. The impact it could have on careers is a big problem, but if the Government is serious about dealing with this, it may have to consider all options.”

Paul Weaving, nurse consultant on infection prevention and control at the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Trust, said staff screening was normally carried out only when there was an unusually high incidence of MRSA on a ward. “In practice, staff found to be colonised with MRSA will be offered treatment but will continue to work. This is because MRSA is transmitted almost entirely by touch, and the standard infection control precautions that should be practised by all staff with all patients will be sufficient to prevent transmission.”

In contrast, Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, one of the 20 best trusts at controlling MRSA cross-infection, excludes staff found to be carrying MRSA from work until they have had three negative tests at 48-hour intervals.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health said: “It is important that staff who contract MRSA are properly dealt with, both for their own and for their patients’ benefit.

“Staff with known active infection with Staphylococcus aureus should not be engaged in direct clinical work until their lesions are healed.”

The growing threat

17 strains of MRSA detected by experts, all showing varying degrees of drug resistance

51 Death certificates mentioned MRSA in 1993

1,652 Death certificates mentioned MRSA in 2006

96,000 hospital patients carrying the infection in 2004, as estimated in research carried out for the Conservative Party

20-40% of the population carry MRSA, mostly in the nose or on the skin - a total of up to 24 million people

£57.5m in funding ploughed into a “deep clean” of hospitals, announced by Gordon Brown. The exercise was condemned because many health trusts missed the deadline set for it, and because it didn’t tackle the issue of people bringing the bug into hospitals in the first place

£1bn being spent every year by the NHS on the battle against the superbug

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-wellbeing/health-news/mrsainfected-medics-allowed-to-keep-working-805247.html

email: info@mrsaactionuk.net

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