Hospital’s battle to keep germs away

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WIGAN hospitals’ battle against a potentially deadly superbug is being spoilt by patients from outside the area, it was claimed today.

Health chiefs today diplomatically urged trusts to do their bit to prevent the spread of clostridium difficile, suggesting that patients from neighbouring areas are undermining Wigan’s attempts to eradicate it.

The bacteria attacks those whose immunity is low, causes diarrhoea and fever and, in the most serious cases, can prove fatal.

Wigan’s hospital trust has had an excellent track record in recent years for eliminating superbugs such as C difficile and MRSA.

But reports have shown that in August there was a rise of Clostridium difficile cases in the borough which health chiefs say are being caused by patients from outside Wigan being brought into local hospitals.

Addressing the Wigan Borough Clinical Commissioning Group, Dr Tim Dalton said: “We need to keep a close eye on this (clostridium difficile) as it remains a worry.

“We were over our targets in August and we need to ask neighbouring trusts what they are doing about it as it appears cases in Wigan are coming from the likes of Bolton, Salford and The Christie.”

Clostridium difficile are bacteria that are present naturally in the gut of around two-thirds of children and three per cent of adults.

It does not cause any problems in healthy people. However, some antibiotics that are used to treat other health conditions can interfere with the balance of ‘good’ bacteria in the gut.

When this happens, C difficile bacteria can multiply and produce toxins, which cause illness such as diarrhoea and fever. At this point, a person is said to be infected with C. difficile.

C difficile bacteria spread very easily. Despite this, C difficile infections can usually be prevented by practising good hygiene in healthcare environments, such as washing hands regularly and cleaning surfaces using products containing bleach

A spokesperson for the WBCCG said: “Recent months have seen a small rise in cases above its agreed target, however, rates are based on small numbers, and fluctuations should be interpreted with caution.

“Figures should be interpreted with care as they report where the episode was identified and not necessarily where the likely cause originated

“An Action Plan has been developed and implemented to improve Healthcare Associated Infections particularly Clostridium difficile. Progress on the action plan is monitored at the Joint Borough wide Infection Prevention and control Committee and the WBCCG clinical Governance committee.

“A consistent approach to microbiology testing for Clostridium difficile has been implemented across Greater Manchester in line with national guidance.

“Our health protection team continues to work with partner organisations and monitor infection rates from both acute hospitals and primary care.”