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Hospital-acquired Infections

Volume 531: debated on Tuesday 12 July 2011

As the Minister of State, my right hon. Friend the Member for Chelmsford (Mr Burns), has just said, clarity and vision are what is needed. The coalition agreement made it clear that the NHS should adopt a zero tolerance approach to all avoidable health care-associated infections, which have caused so many problems for the public over so many years. In 2010-11, there were just under 1,500 MRSA bloodstream infections. That is a decrease of 22% on the previous year. That means that infections are at their lowest level since mandatory surveillance was introduced. In the same period, there were just under 22,000 occurrences of C. difficile infections, which is a 15% decrease compared to the previous year. We will continue with our zero tolerance approach.

I thank the Minister for that reply and the rapid progress made under this Government. I welcome the new C. difficile objective and the publication of weekly statistics, but does the Minister share my concern that it is the same hospitals that keep appearing with the highest number of C. diff cases? What is her Department doing to help those hospitals reduce such cases?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Under the previous Administration there was a national target of reducing C. difficile infections by 30% by 2011, but that does not address the problem because, as he rightly says, there are hospitals that consistently had high rates of infections, so we changed that. Since April, every PCT and every acute trust has its own objective. The organisations with the highest rates of infection will have more ambitious objectives than those that are doing well.