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Last Updated: Thursday, 4 November, 2004, 12:06 GMT
Call to reveal hospital MRSA rate
Kelly Harris (picture courtesy of Western Mail and Echo)
Kelly Harris caught MRSA (picture: Western Mail and Echo)
The father of a woman who caught MRSA has called for Welsh hospitals to be named when they publish infection rates of the "superbug".

Clive Harris, whose daughter Kelly lost a toe after contracting MRSA, said he wanted the figures at the University Hospital of Wales to be published.

In England, infection rates for individual hospitals are published.

Overall in Wales, there were 152 cases of MRSA in 1996, rising to 342 in 2001 and 481 last year.

Mr Harris said he understood the figures could create panic, but said people had a right to know.

Not disclosing information like this risks people believing that either Welsh people are too ignorant to interpret this data or that someone has something to hide
Jon Owen Jones MP

"You could be going into hospital where MRSA cases are really high - you are at risk, but you don't know it," he said.

The case of Ms Harris, from Adamsdown, Cardiff was raised by her MP Jon Owen Jones in the Commons on Wednesday.

He told MPs that Ms Harris had a toe amputated at the University Hospital and believed she caught the bug while in hospital being treated for another complaint.

The Cardiff Central Labour MP said Ms Harris had been unable to find information about the hospital's record on the superbug.

He said: "Not disclosing information like this risks people believing that either Welsh people are too ignorant to interpret this data or that someone has something to hide."

University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff
Cardiff's University Hospital is the largest hospital in Wales

Wales Office Minister Don Touhig said information was gathered in Wales and data published on hospital acquired infections, including MRSA, under the National Public Health Service.

However, unlike in England, this data did not give names of NHS trusts involved.

"It is a decision for the individual trust to decide whether or not it wants to publish this information," Mr Touhig said.

He said he would bring MPs' concerns to the attention of Welsh Health Minister Jane Hutt.

Shadow Welsh Secretary Bill Wiggin said 600 people were expected to die from hospital-acquired infections in Wales this year.

"I think the assembly could do a great deal more," he added.

Hand washing
Hand-washing is defence against transmitting MRSA

Liberal Democrat Brecon and Radnorshire MP Roger Williams said: "Unless we have accurate figures about the prevalence of MRSA in Welsh hospitals, we are unable to scrutinise the policies put forward by the assembly to address the situation."

Mr Touhig said that while the assembly was "very transparent on a whole range of things" he did "share the concerns MPs have expressed on this matter".

MRSA stands for methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, but is shorthand for any strain of staphylococcus bacteria which is resistant to conventional antibiotics.

There are many different strains of MRSA, with differing degrees of immunity to the effects of various antibiotics.

MRSA is spread through contact and hand-washing is regarded as one of the most effective ways of preventing transmission.

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