Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 December 2014

Long-term war on superbugs needed: report

The war on superbugs will never be won without the introduction of long-term strategies to radically reduce their prevalence, a report out yesterday has said.

The British Medical Association (BMA), the independent trade union and professional association for doctors and medical students, has produced a report with a range of proposals to tackle the problem of healthcare associated infections (HCAIs).

Among the proposals is the need for the government to take action to reduce the high bed occupancy rates in hospitals across Northern Ireland.

Tackling Healthcare Associated Infections Through Effective Policy Action, a report produced by the BMA’s Board of Science, calls for a range of measures to minimise the spread of infection and strong governmental commitment focusing on long-term policies that tackle patient throughput and high bed occupancy.

Short term solutions such as using alcohol gel, adhering to a dress code and deep cleansing of hospitals must be supplemented with sustainable evidence-based improvements that will protect more patients in the future, says the report.

It adds that without a change in direction, the risk to patients caused by HCAIs and the burden on the health service are set to continue.

Dr Steve Austin, Chairman of the BMA’s Northern Ireland Consultants’ Committee and based in the Mater Hospital, said: “Whilst we must congratulate healthcare staff on their successful efforts to reduce HCAIs, it is time to introduce longer-term solutions that are integrated and evidence-based.

“Genuine patient safety comes from embedding long-term strategies to tackle HCAIs.

“While (Health Minister) Mr McGimpsey has introduced a number of initiatives including a visiting policy, dress code and unannounced hygiene inspections, we would like to see action taken on the high bed occupancy rates that are evident in hospitals throughout Northern Ireland.

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