MRSA levels plummet as South Yorkshire hospitals act

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HOSPITALS in South Yorkshire have successfully smashed levels of the MRSA superbug, more than halving the number of cases over the last three years.

Just 10 cases of the infection were reported by South Yorkshire’s five hospital trusts last year, down from 22 in 2009/10 and 23 in 2008/09.

This year levels are on track to be reduced even further, with only five incidents of the bug in the last nine months, figures obtained by The Star reveal.

Health bosses say the success is because of action taken to increase hygiene and to screen patients for the bug before carrying out procedures.

Three hospitals – Sheffield Children’s Hospital, Rotherham Hospital and Barnsley Hospital – have been completely clear of the bug for at least 21 months.

The three institutions were among just 35 NHS trusts in the whole of the UK which could report zero cases over the course of 12 months when the Health Protection Agency published a report on the issue in November.

Sheffield Children’s Hospital has not had a single case of MRSA since 2008, more than three years, despite seeing 100,000 children each year.

South Yorkshire’s biggest hospital trust, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals - which runs the city’s five adult hospitals - reported 12 months with no cases before a slight recurrence in September.

The figures at the five hospitals have dropped steadily from 14 in 2008/09 to just two so far this year. The trust has invested an additional £1 million in the past six months to expand deep- cleaning.

Prof Hilary Chapman, chief nurse and chief operating officer at the trust, said: “Our stringent cleaning and infection prevention measures have meant the chances of acquiring an infection like MRSA is well below most other large teaching hospitals.”

Rotherham Hospital has been clear of the bug since March 2010. Prof Walid Al-Wali, director of infection prevention and control, said: “This has not been achieved by luck, but by design and teamwork. The trust has rigorously undertaken screening of patients for MRSA prior to admission for procedures, in advance of the national requirement to do so.”

Barnsley Hospital has been clear of MRSA for more than two years, since its last reported case in September 2009.

Denise Potter, assistant director of infection prevention and control, said: “Infection prevention is a key priority for the hospital and zero cases of MRSA is great news for our patients and visitors.”

* MRSA - Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus - is a form of bacteria carried naturally outside hospitals without harm. But it can cause blood poisoning, abscesses and other problems in hospitals where patients with open wounds or with weakened immune systems are at greater risk.