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Deadly hospital infections being "neglected"

world Updated: Jun 12, 2009 15:31 IST

The NHS is not doing enough to stamp out deadly hospital bugs like pneumonia that have not been given priority in government targets, a watchdog said on Friday.

The National Audit Office (NA0) accused the Department of Health of focusing efforts on fighting the MRSA and Clostridium difficile infections at the expense of other bugs.

"There is also no national data that captures information on some of the most common healthcare associated infections, such as urinary tract infections and pneumonia," it said in a report.

Gastrointestinal, lower respiratory, surgical and skin and soft-tissue infections were also highlighted.

Edward Leigh, Chairman of the Commons Public Accounts Committee which oversees the NAO, said the increases in other common deadly bloodstream infections were threatening all those who use the healthcare system

"There has been lamentable lack of progress in measuring these other infections and therefore they have been neglected," he added.

The report also found that although cases of MRSA and C difficile infections had been brought down nationally after targets were imposed, and 120 million pounds thrown at the problem, some trusts had seen increases.

Cases of MRSA had been reduced by 57 per cent from their 2004 levels by the end of March 2008 and C difficile by 41 per cent, against targets of 50 per cent and 30 per cent, it said.

But it found that while a quarter of trusts had reduced MRSA by more than 80 per cent, in 12 per cent there had been an increase.

For C difficile, it said 29 per cent of trusts had reduced the incidence by 50 per cent, but in 19 per cent of hospital trusts the rate of infection had increased.

The NHS says about 9,000 people died in 2007 where MRSA or C difficile was a contributing factor.