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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 September, 2004, 10:54 GMT 11:54 UK
New cash to fight hospital bugs
Jane Hutt
Ms Hutt lends a hand to the launch of the hygiene strategy
Hospitals in Wales have been told they must make fighting infections - including the so-called superbug, MRSA - a priority.

Assembly Health and Social Services Minister Jane Hutt launched a new strategy on the issue on Thursday.

She said extra cash would be available to help hospitals tackle the problem.

Hospital managers will be accountable for the results, but the strategy does not promise to publish infection rates in the same way as England.

Under the new strategy, hospital workers across Wales are being told they all have a part to play in fighting infection on the wards.

My only hope is that the strategy will lead to the reduction of hospital-borne infections, such as MRSA, which has killed or harmed far too many people in Wales
John O'Sullivan

The strategy, launched at the Royal Gwent Hospital in Newport, is the Welsh Assembly Government's answer to a problem that is a major concern to many patients.

MRSA (methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus) is one of the infections patients can develop in hospital, but it is the focus of public, government and the health service because of its resistance to treatment.

The Welsh health and social services minister is promising an extra 260,000 to bring in changes which include training staff to realise the impact of infection.

Strict hand hygiene by ward workers is recognised as one of the best ways of minimising the risks.

Dr Tony Howard, director of the infection and communicable disease service of the National Public Health Service Service for Wales, welcomed the strategy.

Nurse washing hands
Strict hand-washing is central to reducing infection

He said: "Significant progress has been made already in Wales in dealing with these problems as illustrated by the fact that, despite the increasing complexity of medical treatment, no overall increase in the rates of serious staphylococcal, including MRSA, infections have been seen here for the last six years.

"However, avoidable infections as a result of hospital care continue to affect significant numbers of patients and new initiatives are required if we are to make substantial improvements".

Cardiff journalist John O'Sullivan, 69, was on a life-support machine for seven days with MRSA pneumonia after he caught the superbug during a routine hernia operation at the city's University of Wales Hospital in 1998.

He has spent more than 200 days in hospital since then, the most recent in February this year when he was treated for gangrene of a stomach wound.

He called for all hospital staff - including caterers and cleaners - to be trained in infection control.

'Infection control knowledge'

He welcomed the assembly plan to deal with the infection, something he said that was promised to him by Jane Hutt more than four years ago

He said: "My only hope is that the strategy will lead to the reduction of hospital-borne infections, such as MRSA, which has killed or harmed far too many people in Wales."

On Tuesday, Mr O'Sullivan addressed a meeting of the Infection Control Nurses Association for Wales at Builth Wells.

He said that no student should qualify as a doctor or nurse until they had satisfied the examiners of their knowledge of infection control and how to tackle it.




SEE ALSO:
Flowers check to curb MRSA
30 Jun 04  |  South East Wales
New method to fight superbug
16 Aug 04  |  Northern Ireland
'Superbug' breakthrough claim
10 Jan 04  |  Wales
'My baby son got MRSA'
22 Mar 04  |  Health


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