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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 June, 2005, 19:58 GMT 20:58 UK
Hospitals condemned over MRSA bug
Image of hospital cleaning
NHS hospitals have to meet tough standards on MRSA
A patient watchdog has criticised two hospitals in Cumbria for the second time for failures in dealing with the killer MRSA superbug.

The North Cumbria Acute Hospitals Patient and Public Forum criticised standards at the Cumberland Infirmary and West Cumberland hospitals.

The organisation found problems at the hospitals during inspections in 2004.

Health officials responsible for the units have yet to respond to the forum's findings.

The forum's report says staff are trained on the dangers of infection and cross-infection but that "standards in reality often fell below best practice".

It found in its April inspection that the hospitals had not acted on some of the criticisms it made in September last year and in some respects the situation had deteriorated.

In the 2004 inspections the overall impression at Carlisle Infirmary was "unsatisfactory", with two out of seven wards described as below acceptable standards.

'Undue anxiety'

The latest report states: "The policy of good practice in hygiene and cross-infection control must be one of zero-tolerance of any infringements or failures in compliance.

"Anything less would be like asking British Airways to aim to achieve 99% safe landings."

The report said both hospitals seemed to be downplaying advice to visitors, patients and carers about MRSA "for fear of causing undue anxiety".

Inspectors also found notices about hand-washing were not prominent enough; disabled access to washbasins was poor; plastic drinking jugs and beakers and medicine dispensers were merely rinsed in hot water and left to drain and, in two cases, alongside dirty unwashed crockery.

After the publication of the 2004 report health bosses promised to display more warning notices regarding hand-washing and also agreed to prepare a leaflet for patients and visitors about MRSA.

The forum is one of more than 500 set up to represent the views of patients and public to the NHS.

They have powers to inspect NHS bodies and to require them to respond to their observations.

Hospital hygiene shake-up planned
17 May 05 |  UK Politics

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