Ashford and St. Peter’s Hospitals NHS Trust has announced that it is take further action to reduce MRSA and other healthcare infection rates. National data showing that year on year the MRSA bacteremia rate has not fallen at the Trust has prompted this tougher action.

Joyce Winson Smith, Director of Nursing at Ashford and St. Peter’s commented: “In the last year (2004/05) we have had 45 cases of MRSA bacteraemia, one more than the previous year 2003/04. We are disappointed that a downward trend we saw in the first two quarters of 2004/05 was reversed in the second two quarters. We are very concerned and take this issue seriously. Therefore we have been clamping down on this area and making it the number one safety priority for the Trust.”

Ashford and St. Peter’s has already taken the following additional measures to combat MRSA and other infections:

  • Screening all patients before their admission to Dickens Ward at Ashford Hospital (effective 5th June). Dickens Ward cares for Orthopaedic patients where MRSA following operations such as hip or knee replacement can be difficult to treat.
  • Appointing a third Consultant Microbiologist who started on 13th June.
  • Introducing restricted visiting hours on one ward as a pilot project – this will enable staff to better support visitors in good hand hygiene and other infection control measures.
  • Introducing a dedicated team to clean public toilets at St. Peter’s Hospital.
  • Appointing seven Matrons to oversee the nursing care and management of our Wards and Departments.

Mrs Winson Smith continued: “There can be no doubt that with the complexities of modern medicine and ever more resistant infections that there is a significant challenge ahead for us but we are clear about the task we face. The actions we already have in hand will be augmented by others to make sure that action is taken.”

Over the coming months the Trust will also be:

  • Appointing a Consultant Infection Control Nurse and reorganising the Consultant Team to create Director and Deputy Directors of Infection Control to ensure that this issue is given the priority it deserves.
  • Increasing ward monitoring and focusing staff efforts on good ‘line care’ (e.g. intravenous drips) and hand hygiene with more responsibility and involvement placed on individual departments and wards.
  • Introducing visitor guidance.
  • From November 2005 introducing more single bedded rooms as part of the reconfiguration of services between Ashford and St. Peter’s hospitals.
  • Introducing standard notices across the Trust to be placed by alcohol gel rub dispensers advising patients and staff of the need for good hand hygiene.
  • Reviewing our cleaning arrangements as part of the re-tendering of our cleaning contract which expires in March 2006. In the past cleaning at Ashford has been rated good and at St. Peter’s satisfactory during audits.
  • Reviewing the effectiveness of the current ‘CleanYourHands’ campaign and what else staff, visitors and patients can do to help us combat infections.


The rates of MRSA bacteremia per 1,000 bed days for Ashford and St. Peter’s Hospitals NHS Trust over the last four years are:

  No. of cases MRSA Rate
April 2001 to March 2002 60 0.299
April 2002 to March 2003 65 0.336
April 2003 to March 2004 44 0.225
April 2004 to March 2005 45 0.230


As part of the ‘CleanYourHands’ campaign over 100 staff champions have been appointed. They are ensuring that materials provided by the National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA) are distributed, displayed in ward and clinic areas and kept up to date. Looking at the past three years targets have been set for the Trust to reduce MRSA bacteremia cases as follows:

  • Trust 2004/05 target = 35
  • Trust 2005/06 target = 28
  • Trust 2006/07 target = 22
  • National 2007/08 target = 18

Commenting on the challenge facing the Trust, Chief Executive Glenn Douglas said: “Not meeting our target for 2004/05 means that we must redouble our efforts in 2005/06. We need to reduce the levels of MRSA bacteraemia and other infections while at the same time coping with the complexities of the care and treatment we provide, particularly in specialist areas such as orthopaedics and neonatal intensive care. Our proximity to London where infection rates are higher and near 100 per cent bed occupancy do not help us in these challenges however data published on 15th June by independent health analysts Dr Foster showed that the Trust has low lengths of stay and high rates of day surgery - both factors are thought to help in reducing rates of infection.”


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