Elbow grease is new weapon to fight MRSA

A BIG cleaning team has set to work scrubbing St Mary's Hospital in Paddington from head to toe

Susanna Wilkey

A BIG cleaning team has set to work scrubbing St Mary's Hospital in Paddington from head to toe.

The deep clean is part of a national programme to fight against infections like MRSA and C diff.

Imperial College Healthcare Trust - which includes St Mary's - had the second highest number of cases of C diff in London from July to September last year, according to recent figures from the Health Protection Agency.

But it says that is because it treats more patients than other trusts.

A spokeswoman said: "We are one of the largest trusts in the UK and therefore treat a far greater number of patients than most.

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"In 2006/7, our five hospitals treated more than 160,000 admitted patients.

"The data published today by the HPA shows that we are making good progress in our bid to reduce all healthcare associated infections to an absolute minimum.

"We have reduced MRSA and C difficile infections and the number of cases per bed day is well below that of many comparable trusts handling a similar patient case mix to ours."

The deep cleaning team, which works alongside regular daily cleaners, is now making sure every fixture and fitting in the whole hospital is clean.

Facilities director Andrew Murray said: "Basically what we do is empty an area of patients - usually about six beds at a time - and then clean all the equipment very thoroughly from taking the beds apart to cleaning individual curtain hooks.

"We clean every nook and cranny using steam cleaning and a very strong chlorine cleaning disinfectant. The hospital has had a permanent cleaning team since April and the point is to reduce infection. It is an important factor but not the only one."

Ward managers are contacted before to ensure as little disruption as possible and the programme has also provided the opportunity to de-clutter the wards. St Mary's also did not meet the criteria for infection control during its last inspection by the Health Commission.

It did not meet the standard for systems to reduce the risk to patients, staff and visitors of acquiring infections, such as MRSA.

At the last inspection the number of MRSA blood infections reported by the organisation was also not in line with the planned reductions for that year.

The hospital says it is now on target for this year in terms of reducing MRSA.

A spokeswoman said: "Infection prevention and control is one of our top priorities as an organisation.

"Although there was a reduction in MRSA at St Mary's in 2006/7 - 45 cases compared with 67 cases in 2005/6 - it was above the projected figure set out in the local delivery plans.

"Our steps to reduce healthcare associated infections include rigorous hand hygiene policies, regular cleanliness audits, thorough daily cleaning, the annual deep clean, not overprescribing antibiotics and continuous education about the importance of following rules."