UK Government

Department of Health (National): NHS to track wider range of infections

Press Release   •   Oct 05, 2010 12:18 BST

Mandatory reports to give patients more information and drive down infections

NHS patients are set to get more access to a wider range of information about healthcare associated infections in a drive to improve quality of care, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley announced today.

From next year, hospitals will be required to monitor reported infections of Meticillin Sensitive Staphylococcus Aureus (MSSA) and E. coli, which have been rising in recent years. Extending mandatory surveillance will identify the true scale of the problem and lead to improved standards in hospitals as patients start to use this information to make informed decisions about their healthcare.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said:

"Patients deserve the highest standards of care and expect to be kept safe from harm in hospital. We are now publishing weekly MRSA and C.difficile statistics, enabling patients to make an informed decision about where to go for treatment, based on the issues which matter to them.

"We will extend our system of mandatory reporting in the New Year to include MSSA from January 2011, with others like E.coli to follow in line with expert advice.

"Armed with the right information, patients themselves will drive up standards in the NHS as they decide where they want to go based on the best available data. This is a vital thrust of our reforms to build a patient-centred NHS that achieves outcomes for patients that are among the best in the world."

Mandatory surveillance can help to reduce the number of infections by:

• identifying the risk factors for infection on a national basis;

• allowing the comparison of organisations performance locally;

• collating infection rates, and risk factors, on a national basis; and

• allow the development of interventions and some assessment of the effectiveness of these.

Voluntary surveillance figures show that since 2005 there has been a 37 per cent increase in E. coli bacteraemia reports – and although the number of MRSA bacteraemias has declined since 2004/5, there was been an increase in MSSA infections from 2000 until 2009.

Many of these cases may not be healthcare associated infections (HCAIs), as people can get both MSSA and E. coli infections away from hospitals. Mandatory surveillance will help to identify origins of infections, and intervene to drive down infections that are occurring in healthcare settings.

Andrew Lansley added:

"This is part of our transparency drive across Government. Making more information on the NHS available to patients and the public is the key to improving patient choice and accountability as well as better outcomes for patients.

"We have seen the impact that mandatory surveillance can have, with lower MRSA and C.difficile rates – by extending that surveillance and making it available to patients in a timely and transparent manner, we aim to successfully drive down other infections."

Notes to Editors

1. The Department of Health’s Advisory Committee on Antimicrobial Resistance and Healthcare Associated Infection (ARHAI) have recommended that the increased reports of E. coli bloodstream infections should be investigated because of the rise in overall numbers. They also strongly recommended that mandatory surveillance of MSSA is improved using the same methodology as for MRSA.

2. In 2009 there were 25,532 reports of E. coli through the HPA’s voluntary surveillance scheme, and 9,249 reports of MSSA in 2009

3. MRSA and C.difficile figures are already published on a weekly basis on www.data.gov.uk.

4. For media queries only, please call the Department of Health Newsdesk on 020 7210 5221.

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