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Monday, 24 July 2006 10:48
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
Healthcare watchdog reveals serious failings
An inquiry by The Healthcare Commission found that serious failings in infection control were responsible for the deadly spread of a hospital bug at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, part of Buckinghamshire Hospitals NHS Trust.

Overall, 334 patients contracted the infection and at least 33 people died in the outbreaks which took place between October 2003 and June 2005. These patients had acquired the infection while being treated in hospital.

The Commission says that the Trust did not pay sufficient attention to the management of clinical risk. Only the involvement of the Department of Health, which dispatched a senior microbiologist to advise on the outbreak, and national publicity changed the Trust’s approach.

Anna Walker, Chief Executive of the Healthcare Commission, said: "This is a sad and distressing story. It is a tragedy for the families, for the hospital and for the NHS as a whole. Our first thoughts must be with those who have lost relatives.

"Let me be absolutely clear about the main message from this report: nothing can be more important than the safety of patients.

"At Stoke Mandeville, the leadership of the trust compromised the safety of patients by failing to make the right decisions, even though they had the benefit of experience from the first outbreak. They rejected the proper advice of their own experts.

"Let me also be clear that targets are not to blame for the Trust’s leaders taking their eye off the ball. Managers always have to deal with conflicting priorities and plenty of organisations do it successfully.

"We fully recognise that these outbreaks are not easy to control. But we also know that trusts can minimise the spread of infection so long as they follow established advice on infection control.

"Trusts must ensure that they rapidly isolate patients suspected of having the infection. They need to pay meticulous attention to cleanliness and hygiene and they should never forget best practice on antibiotic prescribing”.


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