Page last updated at 00:20 GMT, Sunday, 1 March 2009

Steam weapon in superbug battle

Steam cleaning
Steam cleaning is "effective" in cutting hospital infections

Hospitals in Scotland are to get more regular steam cleaning as part of the drive to rid them of infections such as MRSA and Clostridium difficile.

The Scottish Government has announced it is spending 400,000 on 250 extra steam cleaning machines.

Twenty machines are already available, but the investment will mean every health board has its own equipment.

Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said steam cleaning was an effective method of reducing infections.

"Tackling healthcare-associated infections is my top priority because it's vital that the public have confidence in the care they will receive if they need hospital treatment," she said.

"Steam cleaning is a particularly effective way of cleaning areas affected by C.diff and substantially increasing the number of steam cleaners available to the NHS will ensure they are available locally when needed."

Wider approach

A total of 18 people died and more than 50 were infected during an outbreak of C.diff at Vale of Leven Hospital in West Dunbartonshire between December 2007 and June 2008.

Labour welcomed the announcement, but said a wider approach to tackling hospital-acquired infection was needed.

Health spokeswoman Cathy Jamieson said: "Scottish Labour has offered the government an effective action plan with an ambitious target to cut the number of C.diff cases by 50% by March 2011.

"Our proposals also include better hand-washing facilities and the appointment of an independent commissioner to drive progress. The plan has cross-party support and the government should adopt it in full."

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde will get 61 of the cleaning machines, which cost 1,600 each. NHS Lothian will receive 32 machines while NHS Grampian will have 22.

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