Page last updated at 10:32 GMT, Monday, 12 January 2009

Hospitals to reveal superbug rate

Hospitals will be required to publish bug reports every two months

The Scottish Government is to start regular monitoring of rates of MRSA and Clostridium difficile in hospitals.

The new "infection report cards" were a key recommendation of an expert report following the outbreak of C.diff at the Vale of Leven hospital last year.

A Strathclyde Police investigation is continuing into the deaths of 18 people linked to that outbreak.

Hospital officials will be required to publish levels of MRSA and C.diff in their areas every two months.

Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon told BBC Radio Scotland: "It will introduce a new level of transparency around infection rates.

We are seeing some of the lowest MRSA rates in Scotland we have ever seen
Nicola Sturgeon
Health Secretary

"For the first time health boards will have to report infection rates on a hospital-by-hospital basis.

"What the public can do is ensure the health board in their local area is taking the right steps to bring infection rates down.

"Although infection is a key issue for patients, we are beginning to see progress.

"We are seeing some of the lowest MRSA rates in Scotland we have ever seen, though C.diff rates remain a big challenge though there are some encouraging signs of progress there as well."

However, Labour's health spokeswoman, Cathy Jamieson, said: "There is nothing new in today's announcement, which the Scottish Government originally made in November.

"When this was first announced, we said that hospitals should be required to report infection cases on a monthly basis, not every two months as ministers are suggesting.

"We also need independent inspection teams to ensure that infection control guidelines are properly followed. Self-assessment just isn't good enough."

The Vale of Leven case arose after a cluster of cases in Dunbartonshire were reported last May.

Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health board only discovered the true scale of the outbreak, which affected more than 50 people, when it looked back over the figures for the previous six months.

An expert report by Professor Cairns Smith recommended levels of infection should be monitored much more closely in hospitals.

The Scottish Government has announced that levels of C.diff and MRSA will now have to be published every two months and discussed at all health board meetings.

Hand hygiene compliance levels will also be monitored.

Last year Ms Sturgeon told the SNP conference in Perth that NHS boards would have to reduce the rate of the infection in hospitals by at least 30% by 2011.

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