Page last updated at 12:05 GMT, Thursday, 12 February 2009

Hospital bug action plan launched

C.diff bacteria
Vale of Leven hospital was hit with a C.diff outbreak

Holyrood's five opposition parties have united to launch an action plan to tackle hospital-acquired infections.

The proposals, drawn up with the help of expert Professor Hugh Pennington, aim to halve the number of C.difficile cases within two years.

The move came after an outbreak at Vale of Leven hospital in Dunbartonshire, in which 18 patients died.

Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said much of the plan's content was already being implemented in Scotland.

However, she has asked the national task force on healthcare associated infections to consider it.

"I do believe this issue is not about party politics," Ms Sturgeon said.

"It requires the combined efforts of everyone in this parliament, as well as the entire Scottish population, if we are to succeed in reducing infection rates."

'Complacent approach'

The opposition party action plan, which has the support of Vale of Leven families, has gone beyond current government action by suggesting a new hospital infection tsar be appointed to police hospitals.

The plan, which was debated at Holyrood, also called for the fitting of automatic, sensor-operated taps to cut the spread of infection, and isolation facilites for all C.diff or MRSA patients.

A total of 55 people at the Vale of Leven hospital were affected by the bug, and 18 patients died, between December 2007 and June 2008.

An initial review of procedures at the hospital, published in August, found "inadequate" infection controls, although a follow-up report this week said improvements were now being rapidly implemented.

Labour MSP Jackie Baillie, whose constituency takes in the hospital, welcomed progress but renewed calls for a public inquiry.

"Nicola Sturgeon's approach to C difficile has been complacent and piecemeal," she said.

Ms Sturgeon has not ruled out a public inquiry and said the issues highlighted at Vale of Leven were also being taken forward across Scotland.

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