Almost 37,000 NHS patients have died after catching either the MRSA or C-difficile hospital superbugs during Labour’s time in office, official figures show.
The two virulent infections claimed 36,674 lives between 1997 and 2007. Of those, 26,208 were from Clostridium difficile and 10,466 from MRSA. Numbers dying in England and Wales from C-difficile soared from 975 in 1999 to 8,324 last year, a jump of about 850 per cent, while fatalities linked to MRSA grew from 386 in 1997 to 1,593 in 2007.
Conservative shadow Health Secretary Andrew Lansley, who obtained the figures from the Department of Health, said: ‘It’s tragic that so many patients have had their lives cut short because of Labour’s failure to do what it takes to root out hospital infections.’ He said hospitals needed to improve hygiene, introduce better prescribing of antibiotics and create more isolation facilities to stop infections spreading.
However, the DoH data, based on causes of death recorded on death certificates, underestimates the true toll. Deaths involving C-diff in those under 65 only began being recorded in April last year. However, a DoH spokesman said the halving in the number of cases of MRSA in England between 2004 and 2008 showed that its strategy for tackling infection was delivering results.
Jo Webber of the NHS Confederation, which represents most hospitals, said that better monitoring and recording went some way to explaining the rises, but admitted that the real incidence of both infections had increased.
From next April, many more patients will be screened for MRSA and C-diff on arrival at hospital or before they receive treatment.
H/t reader kevin a.
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