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MRSA is a national scandal – Ó Caoláin

1 May, 2007

The continuing prevalence of MRSA in Irish hospitals is a national scandal, Sinn Féin Dáil leader and Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has stated. Commenting on new figures from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre which show the number of MRSA bloodstream infections reported by hospitals last year was only five less than the year before, Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

"The continuing very high prevalence of MRSA in Irish hospitals is a national scandal. 587 MRSA bloodstream infections were reported last year, compared to 592 in 2005. These figures represent only a proportion of people infected with MRSA as it does not include those with wound infections.

"This is a damning indictment of successive Governments, but especially the outgoing FF/PD Coalition which has favoured privatisation over the upgrading of the public hospital system. The high incidence of MRSA is a direct result of the overcrowding, lack of beds and shortage of personnel in our public hospitals.

"A&E units and wards are under constant pressure and the highest standards of hygiene cannot be maintained. The privatisation of hospital cleaning services has meant that standards of cleanliness are not being kept up. Cleanliness and hygiene should be an integral part of every hospital's work, with cleaning staff employed by the hospital and part of the hospital team.

"There is an acute shortage of single rooms and isolation units in our public hospitals, without which MRSA will never be effectively tackled.

"Sinn Féin is calling for an effective national strategy against MRSA to be delivered locally in every hospital, nursing home and other care setting. Patients must be fully informed when they have MRSA and deaths attributable to MRSA should be reported to coroners.

"The prevalence of MRSA is one of the main reasons the promised 3000 additional hospital beds need to be delivered, including single rooms and isolation units." ENDS

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