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Patient group calls for league tables to fight superbug infection rates

Patients Association says improved monitoring would help prevent overuse of antibiotics 

 

The Patients Association is calling for improved ward management in the fight against hospital-acquired infections.

The charity said it will lobby the government for tougher measures to tackle antibiotic-resistant ‘superbugs’ after NHS England statistics showed the scale and severity of infection rates.

NHS England estimate more than 300,000 patients contract infections including MRSA and Clostridium difficile each year. The Patients Association fears mortality rates could ‘skyrocket’ as a result.

It recommends that league tables should be established to show how frequently hospitals and GPs prescribe antibiotics and for which conditions to ‘identify problem healthcare providers and challenge outmoded prescribing practices’.

Whittington Hospital infection control matron Trisha Folan said the Patients Association recommendations are ‘valued and sensible’ but added they are not ‘as easy to deliver on the front line'.

She said: ‘It would be very advantageous if this move by the Patients Association led to a loosening of the purse strings, but I’ve done this job 16 years now and haven’t seen any extra money materialise so far.’

Ms Folan explained how her hospital already worked hard to keep its infection control work in the public domain, including publishing an annual report and audit of infection control procedures.

She added: ‘The majority of our wards and departments have their own link worker – a nurse specially trained in infection control – who ensures standards are met and reports to our central team.

‘Hospitals cannot report every infection because it would require massive financial support and a huge number of extra staff, but we should all strive to be fully open and subject to public scrutiny.’

The Patients Association launched its recommendations ahead of this week’s meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for patient safety.

Its chief executive Katherine Murphy said: ‘While some advances have been made in the fight against hospital infections, it is crucial that we eliminate a growing culture of complacency among clinicians and policy-makers.

‘We need a concerted effort to improve awareness of the issue among staff, patients and their families, and reduce the demand for unnecessary antibiotics with rapid point-of-care testing.’

The APPG chair Andrea Jenkyns, Conservative MP for Morley and Outwood, replied that antimicrobial resistance was ‘at the forefront of the minds’ of the group.

She added: ‘While the importance of this issue is understood at the highest levels of government, we must make sure clinicians and the general public do not underestimate or become complacent about the risks.’

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