Campaign planned to continue drive on hospital infections

The number of superbug infections are falling at a Norwich hospital, but staff are still planning a public campaign in a bid to drive cases down further.

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital is hoping to launch the new campaign in September, to raise awareness of the importance of hygiene and to encourage patients and visitors to quiz staff about hygiene issues.

At a meeting of the hospital's council of governors, Ngozi Elumogo, director of infection prevention and control, said the hospital was on a downwards trend for hospital-acquired infections, but it still needed to do more and raising awareness among the public would help.

The hospital treats about 150,000 in-patients and day cases each year. It had 62 cases of MRSA in 2001-02 and 58 in 2005-06.

However, cases have fallen since then, with 33 in 2007-08, 15 in 2008-09, eight in 2009-10 and six in 2010-11.

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Cases of clostridium difficile (C difficile) peaked at 120 in 2008-09, but fell to 89 in 2009-10 and 87 in 2010-11.

In April the hospital had no cases of MRSA, but it had two cases in May and two in June, which chief executive Anna Dugdale said was disappointing. Since April the hospital has had 19 cases of C difficile, 14 of those in April and which were linked to an outbreak of norovirus at the hospital.

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Chairman David Prior said: 'I think it's true that there is greater awareness than there was three years ago but it still needs more.'

The meeting heard how while alcohol gel was an easy to use and simple way of protecting against many hospital infections, it is not effective against C Difficile and norovirus, which requires hands to be washed with soap and water.

The new campaign in September will focus on infection control and will also encourage patients and visitors to ask staff if they have washed their hands.

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