Home >Epsom and St Helier hospitals are winning fight on infections, says senior nurse

Epsom and St Helier hospitals are winning fight on infections, says senior nurse

03 July 2013

Hospitals tackle infection by putting in place robust measures including hand hygiene and cleaning standards

Beefed-up measures to tackle a hospital infection which cost Epsom and St Helier hospitals £3.6million in fines last year are in place and are working according to the hospitals' nursing director. In March both hospitals - which could see their A&E, maternity and children's units axed under controversial proposals set out in the Better Services Better Value (BSBV) review - were facing a £4.8million fine for failing to hit infection reduction targets.

A total of 61 patients had caught Clostridium Difficile (C Diff), in the hospitals last year - 29 at Epsom and 32 at St Helier. The bacterial infection usually affects the elderly who have taken antibiotics and is transmitted via contaminated surfaces. The trust's target, set by the Department of Health, was to keep the number of cases below 53. Just another two cases could have seen the fine rise to £5.7million, but it was capped at £4.8million following negotiations with local primary care trusts.     

It has now been revealed that NHS Surrey and NHS South West London primary care trusts, who were responsible for enforcing the fine before being abolished at the start of this financial year, have fined the trust £3.6million. Additionally, the trust has decided to ring-fence £900,000 to build on measures already in place to tackle cases of C Diff.

Pippa Hart, director of nursing and director of infection and prevention control at the hospitals, said "very robust" measures are in place to tackle the infection, as evidenced by the 75% overall reduction in the number of C Difficile cases in the last four years.

Just two cases of C Diff - 1 at Epsom and 1 at St Helier - have been recorded since April - an improvement on the number of cases which have occurred at the same point in the last three years. 

Ms Hart, a nurse for 33 years who worked in intensive care at the trust before being appointed director of nursing in 2008, said: "Good infection control practice is a range of different things coming together - good hand hygiene and cleaning standards, good antibiotic prescribing, and good practice at ward level to make sure patients are quickly identified.

"The fact that we've had no outbreaks of C Difficile in the last two years indicates that our practices are minimising the risk of cross-infection, and the individual cases that do occur are reviewed carefully to see if there's anything we could have done differently."

Ms Hart, who appears on a number of large infection control posters put up across the hospitals aiming to "engage colleagues and remind them of their responsibilities", says internal and external scrutiny of the hospitals' practices indicate that they have the right measures in place. 

The C Diff target set for the trust for this financial year has been reduced by six cases to 47. Any cases of the infection above this will each incur a £50,000 fine, with the maximum total fine capped at £1.7million.

Ms Hart said that while it is "anxious that it's going to be a challenging year", the trust is "fairly confident".

Source: This is Local London