In this week's Scrubbing Up Tammy Boyce from the King's Fund says that it's not just dirty hospitals that are to blame for MRSA levels.
She believes the media is partly to blame for leading us to think that it is just poor cleanliness which creates MRSA. Tammy Boyce says that the spread of MRSA has multiple causes.
What do you think? Here are some of the comments you have been sending in to this week's Scrubbing up.
In my experience, British hospitals are scruffy and not very well cleaned. So improvement is needed there. Taking work clothing home should not be required at all for any hospital employee. There should be screening for MRSA when patients are admitted. Visitors need to be clean. The UK should look at how controls are applied in countries that have lower rates of MRSA like Holland. Using less antibiotics is desirable but a very very long term strategy. The cat is out of the bag, there is a current population of MRSA out there and we have to control it first and then stop it developing.
Sid Fewster, Crickhowell, Wales
I think this is a poor article in that it gives the reader no sense of how MRSA rates in the UK compare with the rest of Europe. In these circumstances, for the author to dismiss media coverage as simply sensationalist won't do. I've heard lots of people claim that health services in Holland, Germany, France and Scandinavia are better than in the UK. Strangely I've never heard anyone claim the opposite.
Richard Starkey, Huddersfield, UK
This is what annoys me about Britain today - everyone wants to point the finger and blame someone! Could it be that maybe the people in this country are just so selfish that they aren't willing to give extra money towards the health service? Oh, but we're going through a recession at the moment, they say; Rubbish! People have more money now than they ever did before, they just aren't willing to pull together and work towards the good of the community (just themselves) it seems like it's every man for himself. The greed and vanity of the british public is shamefu. I am 28 years old with a young family and am sad that the people of this country like to blame the goverment so much when blame lies at each and every doorstep in the UK.
Colin McBride, Lurgan, Northern Ireland
My 72 year old mother contracted MRSA. Every bedsore she acquired during her three week stay oozed black and narcrotic (even on her ears). Her leg from the knee to the ankle had all but dissolved into a blackened mass. They sent her home to the care of my 74 year old Dad at 1930 GMT on a Monday night. Homecare staff arrived the next day unaware of her infectious status, bathed her without barrier nursing and then attended to the 3 other elderly in the street and worked the rest of their day.
Mum died 5 days later at home with very little pain relief for the agony and distress she was clearly in. As she died at home she was not a hospital statistic. Her death certificate read "arthritis" as the cause of death. The media should report the levels of infection for those in hospital and outside. Nurses and ward staff were unwilling to enter the room Mum was in as they had to gown up on entry, she did not receive the level of care she could have received in a special infection unit.
The general public also needs to understand they have a hygiene responsibility when visiting patients in hospital. MRSA killed Mum when polio in her teens, WWII German bombing and ETA bombs in Spain could not. Anyone else out there know of someone "expelled from hospital" with MRSA?
N Borlase, Kaipoi, New Zealand
I am a nurse in the NHS and there are a number of contributing factors, I agree. But considering the private sector has a 0% infection rate, I find it difficult to conceive how the other factors can be major contributory ones.
The private sector operate a mandatory pre-admission MRSA screening and treatment service for all patients, and that is the single largest factor as to their lack of HAI.
In my experience the culture for overprescribing antibiotics has significantly reduced in this country to any other EU country I have been to, and all though this is an important background issue, it lacks the acuity of the fact that professionals and institutions are actively spreading disease.
More isolation units for treatment are required but they are certainly not going to have a positive effect on bed occupancy rates as they require more space and facilities. The NHS has been trying to reduce bed occupancy rate in hospitals for at least the last 30 years and it always have bed pressure, no matter what reforms are made.
Most newspapers only give half the story of any subject. MRSA is just one. Scare mongering and celebrity stories sell papers. The papers are not interested in the truth as the truth is often boring and would not sell as much.
MRSA and other casual infections I would hazard a guess have co-existed alongside us for generations. Perhaps we should be looking at the household products many retailers so keenly sell us such as anti-mircobial and anti-bacterial sponges and wipes. These, coupled with a lack of playing outside and mucking around in the countryside, have given us a less diversely challenged immune system. So lets get filthy down on the farm!
Declan O' Byrne, London
Having worked in the NHS since I left school as a carer and now studying at university to become a nurse, I have seen dramatic changes in attitudes and practices in the NHS. Staff are far more conscious of cleanliness in most wards I have worked in.
NHS staff are taking more responsibility for cleanliness but relatives and other visitors to wards have to do the same. The media don't make much of the fact that 1 in 3 of the population carry MRSA harmlessly somewhere on their body. So we can assume that around one in three hospital visitors are carrying MRSA.
Some of these visitors will fail to wash their hands when entering and leaving the ward, sit on beds and wander into food preparation areas and other restricted areas in the ward. All of these things increase the risk of infecting staff and patients. The public needs to take responsibility for the stopping the spread of MRSA as well as NHS staff.
Paul, Glasgow, UK
I have MRSA for the second time in under three years. At present I am having to apply clean dressings three times a day. Having had another operation last September to clear it which was unsuccessful, I'm sure the biggest part of the problem is lack of cleanliness.
Having been kept waiting for a bed for over four hours I was then given a single room which hadn't been cleaned. I am now waiting for another operation to try to clear it. This will be the third operation to clear it up. Just how much is this costing the NHS? We need to stop contract cleaning; I have watched, time and again, the cleaners mopping around the room with no interest in their job whatsoever.
Patricia Miller, Norwich, UK