Appeal for calm over wards bug

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HEALTH chiefs in Sheffield have urged hospital patients not to cancel appointments and reassured visitors the city’s wards are safe following an outbreak of the C.Diff bug.

Three wards at the Northern General Hospital in Fir Vale have been placed ‘under surveillance’ after each reported at least two episodes of the infection in less than a month.

C.Diff – short for clostridium difficile – causes diarrhoea and can prove fatal in severe cases affecting the weak and elderly.

Dr Christine Bates, director of infection prevention and control at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said cases of C.Diff are at an all-time low, and patients have ‘never been safer’ from picking up the bug.

She said: “Thanks to the tremendous hard work of all our staff, over the past five years we have seen an 80 per cent drop in the number of patients who have C.Diff.

“Our rates of C.Diff are currently the lowest they have been for a decade, even though we are treating more than one million patients a year.

“To date we have had a 42 per cent reduction in the number of cases compared to last year.”

Dr Bates said no wards were closed at the Northern General or Royal Hallamshire hospitals because of the bug.

She said: “We adopt early intervention approach, which means as soon as any sign of the bacteria appears in a patient, we initiate monitoring, auditing and where appropriate enhanced cleaning, which we call ‘surveillance’.”

Last year, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals invested £1million in the latest disinfectants, deep cleaning and staff training.

C.Diff is a species of bacteria that commonly lives harmlessly in the gut.

Symptoms occur when the organism produces toxin – this usually happens because patients are given antibiotics for another condition, such as pneumonia.