HOSPITAL trusts across the country will recruit teams of new “bug battlers” to combat killer infections on their wards.
As part of a package of measures announced by the Government, every in England will be able to take on two infection control nurses, two isolation nurses and an antimicrobial pharmacist.
And also as part of the war on MRSA and Clostridium Difficile Health Secretary Alan Johnson says he won’t support the application of any trust for prestigious foundation status if they fail to hit targets for tackling the bugs.
An initiative known as Clean, safe care draws together current measures and details new areas where the NHS should invest the extra funding of £270m a year by 2010/11 to support infection control and cleanliness.
This funding will allow trusts such as the Countess of Chester to invest up to £45m on additional specialist staff to assist in the big clean-up.
Mr Johnson said: “We have gone from what has been described a seemingly unstoppable rise in MRSA bloodstream infections throughout the 1990s to a 10% fall in cases of MRSA, thanks to the hard work and dedication of NHS staff, but we know that there is still more to be done.
“The investment of an extra £270million and this strategy will help the NHS to continue the good work going forward. Patients have my assurance that the Government will not take its foot off the pedal and will continue to do all we can to tackle infection.”
From February a new nationwide campaign will be launched to remind the public, GPs and other doctors that using antibiotics is not effective on many common ailments.
The campaign will also highlight that inappropriate use of antibiotics can increase the emergence of antibiotic-resistant strains of infections and that prudent prescribing is therefore required.
As well as recently-announced initiatives, including a new “Bare Below the Elbows” dress code and every hospital to have undergone a deep clean by March 2008, the strategy outlines further areas that the department is leading on to support the NHS in the fight against bugs.
These include hospitals receiving more money earmarked to tackle infection, and primary care trusts being fined for not hitting local targets on Clostridium difficile improvement.
Fines would be over and above those the new Care Quality Commission will be able to place on trusts in breach of the hygiene code.
The Countess of Chester is one of only 50 hospitals in the country which have started the “deep clean” announced by Health Secretary Alan Johnson to combat superbug infections.
This is expected to be successfully completed by April 1.
First to get the treatment last November were the operating theatres, with the women’s and children’s wards being started last month.
On top of the £2m the Countess currently spends annually on cleaning, the Trust has invested an additional £325,000 in the “deep clean”.