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Volume 670: debated on Thursday 10 March 2005

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asked Her Majesty's Government:When they first became aware of the hazard to health caused by methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in hospitals. [HL1251]

The health risks posed by methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) have been well known since the mid-1980s. Under the voluntary system then in existence it is clear that the proportion of MRSA isolates in blood stream infections increased from 4 per cent to 30 per cent from 1993 to 1997. To establish the full scale of the problem this Government introduced the mandatory surveillance of MRSA blood stream infections with effect from 2001. It is by employing these data that we have been able to set a target to halve the rates of MRSA by 2008 and to see that between April and September 2004 MRSA infections dropped by 6.3 per cent compared with the same period in 2003 thanks to hard work by National Health Service staff.