Thursday, 18 October 2007

Superbug Saga

The hospital superbug saga rambles on, with ever more depressing news emerging about the state of health care in the NHS. Last week it was revealed that C.diff had killed up to 90 patients at Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells Trust.

Today, more figures from the Healthcare Commission show that 44 Trusts are considered "weak", and that 16 actually lied about following the Department of Health's anti-superbug Hygiene Code, when in fact they had not. According to The Sun, under the wonderful headline The Good, the bad & BUGLY, Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells Trust was one of them - there's a surprise, eh?

Actually, I don't find any of these revelations surprising. Nor, I am sure, will anyone else who's had any dealings with the NHS over the past 10 years or so. The evidence is there for all to see - you just have to wander around your local hospital for an hour or two and it will be very hard to miss.

Basic hygiene just does not happen in the NHS, and, despite the protestations of various senior managers, this has nothing whatsoever to do with funding. Go on, go for a walk around your local hospital. Wander on to any ward you fancy (probably best to do that in visiting hours, mind!). You will find the place fairly bristling with sinks and soaps and alcohol disinfectant rubs for the hands, and BLOODY BIG signs urging folks to wash their hands as they come and go.

You will also notice that very few people use them, and that the majority of those that do are visitors. They've read the papers, they see the signs and they do their bit - possibly because of the novelty value. Staff, who see the signs all day, every day, breeze past them without a thought.

This is not about resources, it's not about training. It's about sheer, bone idle laziness. How much training is required before someone is able read a notice and follow it? Approximately none.

Yet Gordon Brown-Trousers, the only PM in history to be afraid of winning an election, says the Government has pledged an extra £100 million to combat MRSA and C.diff. Fine, it can't hurt. But it won't help all that much, either - both carrot AND stick are needed here.

Something like this. Change the law. Make it so that any NHS employee failing to observe hygiene regulations can be (and is) sacked on the spot without any compensation, whether they're cleaners or consultants. Set up a hotline, and a web site, where patients, relatives and proper NHS people can pass on information, in confidence, about the dirty, unhelpful buggers who mess these places up. Encourage the public to take pictures of dirty hospitals, and staff ignoring the regulations, and submit them with their complaints.

Make it easy for patients, and their relatives, to institute legal proceedings against hospitals where they have contracted a hospital acquired infection, and ensure that staff, as well as the Trust, are personally liable. Damages should not fall below £100,000 and should have no upper limit, with the judiciary being encouraged to award compensation far in excess of the minimum.

Just making more cash available is not the way forward; making it financially more appealing to clean up than taken to the cleaners might be.

Billy Seggars.

1 comment:

John said...

...and tell people about colloidal silver, which will solve the problem for tuppence a gallon, but is suppressed by BigPharma. Tony Blair was told about this years ago. It's a disgrace.