Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust will be welcoming a team from the Department of Health this month to help in the ongoing battle against MRSA and other infections in hospitals.
More than 70 other trusts have already benefited, with improvements of between 16% and 34% in MRSA levels in the wake of what are known as ‘improvement reviews’.
The visit reflects the seriousness with which the issue of infections is being taken at all levels of the Department and of the Government, as well as by patients and the wider public.
It comes as the Trust is gearing up for a major campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of infection, both internally and in the wider community.
It also follows an inspection by the Healthcare Commission, the independent health watchdog body, which has highlighted many areas of good practice at the Trust.
MRSA totals are largely unchanged in the Trust this year, though about half of the Trust’s reported cases are being brought in from outside rather than being acquired after arrival.
However, the Trust’s target for this financial year is for there to be no more than 12 cases of MRSA cases – a tough challenge. By the end of August, there had been nine.
The number of cases of Clostridium difficile (C Diff) – the other main, dangerous infection – is much lower than 18 months ago, though there was a small increase in April-June this year.
The Department of Health team will be conducting interviews with staff from across the Trust. They will also be visiting a number of wards and other clinical areas to gauge how infection control is understood and managed.
The Trust will then work with the Department on any actions that arise from the review.
Trust Chief Executive Jac Kelly said: “We very much welcome this visit. MRSA and other infections are a huge issue for the NHS, so it’s good to get this sort of on-the-spot help in North Devon.
“I’d like to reassure people that dangerous MRSA infection remains very rare. But any number of cases is too many, which is why we’re aiming to launch our own campaign shortly to raise awareness, as well as continuing to strengthen internal controls.
“Lots of people carry the MRSA bug without ever suffering ill effects. But it’s when they come into hospital and may pass it on to vulnerable people that the problems arise.”