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Last Updated: Thursday, 25 October 2007, 12:19 GMT 13:19 UK
NHS bugs 'due to poor leadership'
A ward
The government has ordered a deep clean of all hospital wards
Poor leadership within the NHS is to blame for the problems with hospital superbugs, according to the minister in charge of reviewing health care.

Lord Darzi told MPs on the Commons Health Committee that hospital deep clean programmes had already started.

But he said the deaths of 90 patients in Kent from Clostridium difficile showed the need for cultural change.

MPs also quizzed him about his plans for super GP surgeries and the timing of his interim report.

Lord Darzi, a practising surgeon as well as health minister, is carrying out a review of the NHS which is due to be finished next summer.

There has been poor leadership in some of the organisations that have had significant outbreaks of the type we have seen in the last week
Lord Darzi, health minister

The interim report was controversially brought forward earlier this month amid speculation Prime Minister Gordon Brown was set to call an election.

Tory MP Mike Pelling said the episode affected his ability to be an "honest broker" between the NHS and government.

But Lord Darzi said he had become a minister in a bid to help improve the NHS.

He was also forced to defend his support for polyclinics - super GP surgeries housing a range of services from family doctors and social care to minor surgery and diagnostics.

Many people believe these clinics will pave the way for cuts to district general hospitals across the country.

But Lord Darzi saved his strongest comments for hospital infections.

The Healthcare Commission recently concluded that as many as 90 people had died between 2004 and 2006 in two separate outbreaks of C. difficile at the Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust.

'Poor handling'

The report said the poor handling of the bug - a bacterial infection of the gut which mainly affects the elderly - had probably contributed to the deaths of dozens more.

It found a litany of problems, including a shortage of nurses so dire that staff did not have the time to wash their hands between patients and on some occasions even told those in their care to "go in their beds".

Lord Darzi said: "There has been poor leadership in some of the organisations that have had significant outbreaks of the type we have seen in the last week.

"I work in organisations that deliver health care and I know exactly the ones that have the right leadership."

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