MP to visit award-winning infection control team

Norwich North MP and chairman of the House of Commons science and technology select committee Dr Ian Gibson is spending time with the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital NHS Trust's award-winning infection control team

Last December, the Department of Health reported a fall in the level of MRSA bacterial infection at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital NHS Trust's hospitals. Last year the infection control nurses also won the ICNet prize for the most innovative infection control awareness week.

On March 12, Dr Gibson will meet the Trust's full-time team of infection control nurses; led by a director of infection control who is a consultant microbiologist, and who undertake surveillance and audit programmes, compulsory staff training and general awareness raising, whilst also advising patients and staff about specific infections.

Director of infection control, Dr Judith Richards, said: "We are committed to trying to minimise the risks of infection and we are glad that Dr Gibson is taking an interest. Tackling the problem of infection is one that health professionals and the public have to undertake together as infections, just one of which is MRSA, are prevalent in the wider community."

Note to editors:

Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) is an antibiotic-resistant form of Staphylococcus Aureus (SA). SA is a widespread bacteria which is known to colonise approximately one third of the general UK population. The vast majority of such hosts will suffer no ill effects and will be unaware that they are carrying SA. They may, however, easily infect others. Problems only arise with the bacteria when it occupies open wounds, particularly in those patients whose immune systems are already under strain either through disease, therapy or general debilitation.

In 1944, in excess of 95% of SA was susceptible to penicillin. With the use of antibiotics since that time, however, that proportion has now shrunk to just 10%. It is not least for this reason that in the developed world a great deal of work is being done to limit the widespread antibiotic use that has led to this resistance.

MRSA  was first identified in the 1960s and the incidence has been rising since. In the period 1989 to 1991 the proportion of SA in the UK that was resistant was approximately 1.5%, but that steadily rose to 31.7% by 1997.

MRSA is increasingly a community-based problem which becomes apparent in hospital because patients are screened for MRSA and it is therefore detected, whereas at home and in the community it may not be. To put the rate of antibiotic-resistant SA in its international context, the percentage of MRSA as isolates of SA are as follows:  

USA      28%

UK       32%

Belgium  40%

Japan    70%

Media contact: Andrew Stronach on 01603 287200.

Wednesday 25th of February 2004 12:06:00 PM