AN INVESTIGATION is underway after an outbreak of the deadly superbug MRSA at Leighton Hospital in Crewe.
Ward 13 has been closed to new admissions and tight controls placed on staff movements and visiting hours after nine patients were struck by the infection.
The ward, which cares for patients undergoing surgery, is now subject to an investigation to determine the source of the outbreak.
Patients are being screened for signs of the bacteria while those suffering from the bug have been placed in solitary rooms to contain its spread.
Karen Egan, lead nurse and manager of the Infection Prevention and Control Service, said: 'As a precautionary measure, the ward has been temporarily closed to new admissions.
'Visitors are being asked to limit the number of times they attend the ward and to follow guidance on hand hygiene.
'Senior staff and members of the Infection Prevention and Control Service are closely monitoring the situation.'
Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) lives harmlessly on the skin or in the nose.
But itcanbelife-threateningif it gets into the blood stream of already poorly people too weak to fight it off.
The Mid Cheshire Hospitals Trust, which runs Leighton, confirmed nine new cases - five of which were classed as low level. Patients are being treated with antibiotics.
Investment in cleaning services and staff training has helped the trust achieve an 11% drop in MRSA cases.
But that still does not meet Government targets and this new outbreak will dig deeper into the trust's limited resources.
Mrs Egan added: 'Our nursing and medicalstaffarepaying strict attentiontoindividualpatient hygiene and have received additional training regarding infection prevention and control.
'Staff movement between wards is being monitored to reduce the potential of the bacterium spreading and an increased cleaning schedule has been introduced on the ward. I would like to reassure patients and members of the public that the situation is in hand.'
Full details of the hospital's struggling financial position emerged in April when it announced 250 jobs would need to be shed to stem its spiralling debt. In the red to the tune of nearly £2m, it launched a Getting Back into the Black strategy to cure its flagging finances and fend off a projected overspend of millions more.