Revealed: Number of infections caught after procedures at Norfolk’s busiest hospital

NNUH chief nurse Professor Nancy Fontaine. Photo: NNUH

NNUH chief nurse Professor Nancy Fontaine. Photo: NNUH - Credit: NNUH

More than 1,700 patients have caught infections following procedures at the region's busiest hospital in the space of four years.

Figures revealed by a Freedom of Information request showed some 1,736 cases of infection following a procedure at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) - but the trust said this was low when compared to the number of procedures which take place and was in line with other hospitals across the country.

The vast majority of cases in the timeframe, between 2015 and 2018, were in general surgery where there were 826 cases.

But that had dropped year on year down from 214 in 2015 to 181 in 2018.

On the contrary the second highest area, plastic surgery, had seen a rise in infections from 55 in 2015 to 80 in 2018. The total number in the timeframe was 279.

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Plastic surgery was the only area to see a rise between 2015 and 2018.

In surgery alone there were 165,108 procedures in that timeframe.

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Professor Nancy Fontaine, chief nurse at NNUH, said: "We are proud to have such low infection rates at the NNUH and this is testament to the dedication and care of all our teams.

"Infection rates following surgery at NNUH are low when compared with the number of procedures that take place at the hospital and are in line with hospital trusts nationally.

"Having said that we are always working hard to reduce infections and our Infection Prevention and Control team carry out a comprehensive programme of audits across the hospital.

"We also carry out surgical site surveillance for hip and knee replacements and other surgeries such as vascular and caesarean sections."

The most well known - and serious - infections patients can get in hospital are C difficile and MRSA, but they are extremely rare and many infections caught are not serious.

From March 2018 to 2019 there were 31 cases of C difficile at the NNUH, and one case of MRSA.

In February this year regulator NHS Improvement gave the hospital's emergency department a red rating - but in a visit on July 16 the hospital was rated green.

Writing to staff in a letter published in this month's board papers Mark Davies, hospital chief executive, said the trust was "maintaining our low infection rates with zero cases of MRSA, our renal unit has the lowest infection rates in the country".

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