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MRSA and Clostridium Difficile

Volume 524: debated on Tuesday 8 March 2011

4. What recent steps his Department has taken to reduce the incidence of MRSA and clostridium difficile in hospitals. (44479)

This Government have made it clear that the NHS must adopt a zero-tolerance approach to health care-associated infections. We reinforced this in the “NHS Operating Framework 2011-12”, requiring the NHS to prioritise delivery of the MRSA and the new C. difficile objectives. In 2009-10 C. difficile infections decreased by 29% and MRSA decreased by 35% on the previous year.

I thank the Minister for his reply, but will he tell me specifically what action the Government are taking to deal with MRSA and C. diff, particularly in the Queen’s hospital in Romford and throughout the Barking, Havering and Redbridge NHS Trust? Will he assure the House that any such case will be made public by the hospital trust and not kept quiet?

I can assure my hon. Friend that the performance at his trust on health care-associated infections is unacceptable. We have set demanding objectives for reducing both those infections. In 2011-12, his trust’s MRSA objective requires a reduction of 58%, one of the highest reductions in the country. Its C. difficile objective requires it to deliver a 24% reduction. The consequence of non-achievement is an option to withhold part of the contract payments, and I can categorically assure my hon. Friend that there is no question of keeping this information or developments secret. We require weekly publication of figures.

As the Secretary of State knows, the north Cumbrian health economy is in crisis. GP commissioning is providing £30 million less for acute hospital services in north Cumbria this year than it did last year. This has resulted in the trust being unable to seek foundation trust status, and it is seeking a merger which minutes leaked to me by consultants say could lead to the closure of the West Cumberland hospital. Will the Secretary of State meet me as a matter of urgency so that we can collectively find how we can get the hospital out of that hole? Will he also consider a delay to foundation trust status to give the hospital trust more time to get back on its feet?

I am a bit confused, Mr Speaker, as the question is about MRSA and C. difficile, and I did not hear any specific question from the hon. Gentleman on that subject.

I am grateful to the Minister of State. My sense is that the hon. Member for Copeland (Mr Reed) is seeking a meeting. The Minister is perfectly at liberty to say more if he wishes, or if he does not think it is worth it, he does not have to do so.

Mr Speaker, you are a wise owl to be able to interpret what Opposition Members are thinking but may not be saying. If the hon. Gentleman has concerns along the lines that he mentioned, I or one of my ministerial colleagues would be more than happy to meet him.

Wise owl is the kindest description that the hon. Gentleman has ever offered of me. I shall take it that he means it. It’s the best I’ll get.