Data shows success in the fight against MRSA

The NHS is making significant inroads in the fight against MRSA and closing in on the government target to half the rate of infection, latest data from the Health Protection Agency (HPA) suggests.

A 30 per cent decrease was seen between the financial year 2007/08 and 2006/7, representing the fourth and most marked annual drop in MRSA. In all 4,438 cases have been reported in the past year.

Comparing the first quarter of 2008 to the quarterly average of 2003/04 shows a 49 per cent reduction.

Health secretary Alan Johnson said: ‘We are tackling infections on every front with a relentless focus on cleanliness, best practice guidance on antibiotic prescribing, isolating patients and more infection control staff with more powers to drive down infection rates.

‘Our strategy is clearly having an impact, with our challenging target to reduce MRSA by half now within touching distance, but this is not an issue we can be complacent about and we will continue to focus our efforts on reducing infections further.’

A total of 10,586 of Clostridium difficile were reported in the first quarter of this year – a 6 per cent rise on the last quarter of 2007. But the HPA says this may partly be due to better reporting rather than higher incidence.

When the first quarter of 2008 is compared to last year, a 32 per cent fall is evident.

Dr Georgia Duckworth, head of the HPA infection and antimicrobial resistance department, said: ‘We now have a more robust system that will enable us to measure the levels of this infection better and help trusts manage and monitor the effectiveness of their interventions to improve infection control.’

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