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Government inaction on superbugs is costing lives – Ó Caoláin

23 May, 2008

Sinn Féin Health & Children spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has said that Government inaction on hospital superbugs is costing the lives of patients. He was responding to news that 101 cases of Clostridium Difficile (C Diff) have been recorded since doctors were legally obliged to report cases from 4 May.

The Sinn Féin Dáil leader called on the Taoiseach Brian Cowen to intervene and provide the resources to implement the recommendations of the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC).

Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

"The scale of C Diff infection in our hospitals as revealed by these new figures is extremely serious. This infection is more virulent than MRSA and is causing fatalities in our hospitals. I regret to have to say it, but I believe many of these deaths are avoidable because Government inaction on hospital superbugs is costing lives.

"For several years now campaigners on MRSA have been calling for isolation facilities and other essential measures to deal with serious hospital-based infections. The Government and HSE response has been totally inadequate. A campaign to encourage people to wash their hands is not enough.

"I deplore the response of Health Minister Harney to the recommendations of the Health Protection Surveillance Centre. We need a commitment to implement these recommendations in full and to allocate the funding this year to do so. Clearly Minister Harney is not up to the job and the Taoiseach Brian Cowen should intervene to see that this major threat to public health is effectively tackled.

"Sinn Féin demands that the Government implement the recommendations including: isolation of patients with C Diff in single rooms; each hospital to conduct its own surveillance of the infection; education on infection control to be mandatory for all healthcare workers; antibiotic prescribing to be monitored.

"It is significant that the HPSC highlights the lack of a specialist laboratory which would allow doctors to detect what type of C Diff is affecting patients and that doctors have to send samples abroad. Under this Minister hospital labs are being closed down and work contracted overseas. This policy must be reversed." ENDS

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