[holding answer 21 November 2007]: Basildon hospital is subject to the national standards that have been put in place in relation to healthcare associated infections.
The “Health Act 2006: Code of Practice for the prevention and control of healthcare associated infections” came into force on 1 October 2006. It requires national health service bodies to have appropriate management and clinical governance systems in place to deliver effective infection control. Compliance with the Code is assessed by the Healthcare Commission, which has the power to issue an ‘improvement notice’, to an NHS body that in its view is not properly observing it.
This is the first Government to introduce mandatory surveillance of healthcare associated infections (HCAIs), beginning with methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteraemias in April 2001. In January 2007, we introduced quarterly publication of mandatory data for MRSA and C. difficile.
Tackling HCAIs is a priority in the NHS operating framework. We have set a nationwide target, to halve the number of MRSA bloodstream infections by April 2008, and each Trust has its own local MRSA target. From April 2007, primary care trusts and trusts have been required to agree local targets to reduce significantly C. difficile infections. Under the new “Better Care for All” public service agreement, we have set new requirements for the period to 2010-11, to maintain the current MRSA target (keep MRSA bloodstream infections below half the numbers in 2003-04), and to deliver a 30 per cent. reduction in C. difficile infections compared with the numbers in 2007-08.
We have introduced a wide range of measures to help support the NHS in tackling HCAIs. I refer the hon. Member to the written ministerial statement, given on 15 October 2007, Official Report, column 49WS.
In addition, the hon. Gentleman may find the Clean Safe Care website helpful www.clean-safe-care.nhs.uk. This website provides a central hub for information and news on HCAIs, as well as providing a gateway to key tools and guidance.