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Hospitals are hitting targets on superbugs
TOUGH targets for reducing the number of superbugs are now being met in community hospitals around Worcestershire.
Worcester Health and Care NHS Trust Board, which is responsible for community hospitals and health facilities across the county, has had nine cases of clostridium difficile (c.diff) so far this year, against its year-to-date target of 12.
The latest figures come hot-on-the-heels of the launch of a county-wide campaign to prevent the spread of drug-resistant superbugs by stopping people overusing antibiotics.
C.diff can cause flu-like symptoms, including high temperatures, painful abdominal cramps and diarrhoea.
It can also cause life-threatening complications such as severe swelling of the bowel.
The bacteria do not usually cause any problems in healthy people, however, the use of some antibiotics can interfere with the balance of ‘good’ bacteria in the gut, allowing c.diff to multiply.
C.diff infection is therefore particularly common among people staying in hospitals and is a major headache for healthcare providers, who as well as the disruption can face hefty fines if strict targets are not met.
The trust did not have a single incident of c.diff during January, with its last confirmed case, in December, currently under investigation.
Finance director Robert Mackie called the latest stats a very pleasing turnaround after “alarm bells” earlier in the year when a number of cases occurred.
Chief executive Sarah Dugan said controlling infections like c.diff remains one of the trust’s key priorities – especially with government targets on controlling the infection getting tougher every year.
Although the figures have not been confirmed, the trust is expecting a target of just nine cases of c.diff for the 2013/14 financial year.
Mr Mackie said the government was operating a similar “zero tolerance” policy to that it used to tackle MRSA, which is now all but eradicated from hospitals.
But chairman Chris Burdon said that there were fundamental differences between c.diff and MRSA and that targets were becoming “extremely aggressive and bordering on unrealistic”.
The ‘Take Care, Not Antibiotics’ campaign is highlighting how inappropriate or overuse of antibiotics can lead to infections such as c.diff. Posters and leaflets have been produced and are available online from the South Worcestershire Clinical Commssioning Group at southworcsccg.nhs.uk /news/ campaigns.