MRSA cases fall by 10% in UK
Thursday, 01 Nov 2007 15:41
Cases of the healthcare-associated infection (HCAI) MRSA have fallen by ten per cent in the last year, statistics have revealed today.
The Health Protection Agency (HPA) said there were 6,381 reported cases of MRSA in England between April 2006 and March 2007.
This compares to 7,096 in the same period for the previous year. Cases of MRSA in the last quarter also fell by ten per cent.
There has been a 12 per cent decrease in reported cases of MRSA blood poisoning since mandatory surveillance began in 2001, with falls seen in all types of acute NHS trusts.
Health secretary Alan Johnson has described today's figures as "encouraging".
Although cases of the HCAI Clostridium difficile (C.difficile) in the over-65s rose by seven per cent between 2005 and 2006, the latest quarterly figures show a 13 per cent drop in cases during April to June in 2007 compared to January to March.
The HPA also published its first results of C.difficile cases in people aged between two and 64; 2,890 were reported between April and June 2007. It is estimated that 84 per cent of all infections occur in people aged over 65.
The agency said today's figures should be treated with caution, however, as there have been recent changes to the surveillance system that could have impacted on them, such as the extension of the mandatory surveillance to patients aged two years and over.
Commenting on the figures, Professor Pete Borriello, director of the centre for infections, said some trusts had made a "significant impact" on MRSA infection rates despite heavy workloads.
But he added: "More work needs to be done to see the same level of decrease with C.difficile and we are encouraging trusts to use the figures to raise the profile of local infection control practices and make changes where the results indicate this may be necessary."
Dr Georgia Duckworth, head of the agency's HCAI department, said: "There can be, and have been, significant reductions for some infections."This is particularly notable for MRSA blood poisoning, particularly when these infections are placed in the context of significant increases in hospital activity. This is a major achievement against the seemingly unstoppable rise in MRSA bloodstream infections throughout the 1990s."
Health secretary Alan Johnson said the government is "determined to tackle" HCAIs.
"We are the only country in the world to impose mandatory, universal surveillance of MRSA and C.difficile including for the first time gathering information on C.difficile in those under 65. We have also raised the bar to ensure that the highest possible hygiene standards are set for trusts," he added.
"The measures that we have introduced over the past months - including £50 million funding to reduce infections, increasing the number of matrons to 5,000, 'bare below the elbows' guidance, the establishment of the Care Quality Commission and plans to screen all patients for MRSA - show that ensuring patient safety is our absolute priority."