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Sinn Féin question link between Hospital infection, and 30 deaths last year from MRSA with privatisation and legacy of under investment

28 July, 2004

Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson, Upper Bann MLA John O'Dowd has questioned the link between increased risks from hospital infection from MRSA which resulted in 30 deaths in our hospitals last year and the privatisation of hospital services and the legacy of under investment.

Mr O'Dowd said:

"There are very serious health risks now associated with going into hospital. Fifteen years ago MSRA was rare yet now it is common and there are a variety of other superbugs that are very resistant to antibiotic treatment.

"I think we have to analysis how the current level of hospital infection was established. I would be concerned particularly at the levels of hospital cleanliness and hygiene and the monitoring practices and the standard of services that have been privatised.

"We have already begun to put in place mechanism to hold hospitals and trusts accountable for cleanliness yet we also have to look at the wider issues around occupancy rates as well. The level of demand on our hospitals require very high occupancy rates yet high levels of occupancy push up the risk of infection from MRSA and in some cases death, Increasing capacity is one way to start meeting the high levels of demand while keeping occupancy rates at sensible levels.

"We also need to adopt and adapt best practice from elsewhere. Evidence has shown that hospitals can eradicate MRSA by introducing stringent practices in and outside the Hospital. Including:

All patients scheduled to attend the hospital are screened for the virus before entering wards.

Staff have to wash hands after tending to each patient.

Visitors are not allowed to use chairs etc used by patients.

Extra cleaning staff employed.

"The measures cost money but savings can be made from the fact patients are not being kept in due to infection or dying unnecessarily in our hospitals.

"The long-term under funding of our entire health service by successive British governments has resulted in much hospital accommodation that is old and dilapidated. Our hospital infrastructure urgently needs a massive injection of capital funds if we are ever going to begin to win the war against hospital infection." ENDS

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