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New Government must step up fight against MRSA – Ó Caoláin

6 June, 2007

The incoming Government must step up the fight against MRSA and other hospital infections by providing isolation units and single rooms for infected patients, according to Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin.

Responding to revelations that as far back as May 2001 the infection control committee for University College Hospital and Merlin Park Hospital in Galway were expressing anger and dismay at the non-implementation of policies to combat MRSA, Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

"These revelations confirm that if concerted action had been taken at an early stage MRSA would probably not have become as widespread as it now is throughout our hospital system.

"There is still an acute shortage of single rooms and isolation units in our public hospitals, without which MRSA will never be effectively tackled. The revelations from Galway show that the need for such facilities was clearly identified as far back as 2001 but action was not taken.

"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.

"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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