THREE Hampshire hospitals run by a Basingstoke-based trust are winning the battle against potentially fatal superbugs, the latest figures show.
Rates of MRSA and Clostridium difficile (C.diff) infections continue to fall at Basingstoke hospital, Winchester’s Royal Hampshire County Hospital (RHCH), and Andover War Memorial Hospital.
Between April 2012 and March 2013, Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust recorded 40 cases of C.diff, down on 55 the previous year. Its target is to halve that figure next year.
There has been a dramatic fall in hospital acquired infections over the last five years. In 2007, at the RHCH alone, there were 158 patients with C.diff, an infection of the gut which can lead to severe diarrhoea and bowel inflammation.
Figures also show the trust recorded one case of MRSA in 2013 compared to 18 in 2003-4.
Dr Matthew Dryden, consultant microbiologist, said a simple way to stop the spread of superbugs is better hygiene. A high-profile “Clean Your Hands Campaign” has encouraged doctors and nurses to wash their hands between patients, and also patients and visitors to use hand-wash gel.
Speaking at a health focus event at the RHCH, Dr Dryden said bugs could also be spread by doctors’ stethoscopes and pens which should be wiped down with alcohol rubs.
Dr Dryden said: “If a doctor plants a stethoscope on the chest of a patient, who happens to have MRSA, and then on another, it may transfer the superbug.”
Overcrowding on hospital wards could also lead to the spread of superbugs. Dr Dryden said he would like every patient to have their own room and en-suite facilities to reduce the risk of infection.
But he said some senior hospital managers believe patients prefer to stay on wards so they can chat to others.
Dr Dryden said the trust had also become better at deep cleaning wards to control the spread of superbugs.
He warned E.coli was “the next big problem... the next MRSA coming from abroad and in food... increasingly resistant to common antibiotics.”