Monday, January 12, 2009

NHS Trust where 270 died of superbug STILL making 'serious' hygiene breaches

Undercover inspectors have found continued hygiene failings at the NHS trust where 270 people died of the superbug C. diff. Spot checks revealed evidence of 'serious' breaches of hygiene on a specialist ward where internal body cameras were not being properly decontaminated before being inserted into another patient. The Healthcare Commission said there was still a shortage of nurses at the trust and on one ward staff could not wash their hands because there was no accessible basin.

At least 90 people died as a direct result of C. diff, and a further 180 deaths were hastened by two outbreaks at three hospitals covered by the Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells trust in 2006 and 2007. The trust's chief executive, Rose Gibb, resigned after being offered a 250,000 payout. It was later reduced to 75,000 - half her annual salary. Miss Gibb is appealing the reduced payoff through the High Court.

Now a follow-up investigation by the Healthcare Commission has said the trust - which runs the Kent and Sussex Hospital, Pembury Hospital and Maidstone Hospital - still needs to do better. A spot check in October found several breaches of the Government's-hygiene code.

The most serious related to decontamination of equipment in the endoscopy unit at Kent and Sussex Hospital in Tunbridge Wells. A special double sink for washing the internal camera equipment has now been ordered.

It was also found that although regular audits were being carried out on the effectiveness of infection control facilities, the recommendations were not being followed up across the trust. But specific wards have been allocated for the isolation of infected patients and there are better standards of cleaning and improved staff training. The latest C. diff figures were the lowest for three years.

Healthcare Commission head of investigations Nigel Ellis said: 'The trust's infection control system still needs further improvement.' Inspectors will visit the trust in July to check on progress. Geoff Martin of pressure group Health Emergency said: 'This was the biggest corporate failure in the history of the NHS. It is shocking that there are still problems this far on.'


Australia: Public hospital delays killing cancer patients

CANCER campaigners are developing a hospital waiting lists shame file in an attempt to cut treatment delays they say could be killing patients. People who have faced hold-ups in the state's health system are being urged to contact Cancer Council Queensland's hotline, from tomorrow, to report their experiences. Chief executive officer Professor Jeff Dunn said the calls would be logged and presented to Health Minister Stephen Robertson.

The move follows the release of Queensland Health figures showing more than 250 Category 2 patients had been waiting more than two years for elective surgery. People in that group - including cancer and heart disease patients - should be operated on within 90 days, according to State Government guidelines.

"We are very concerned that some cancer patients might have experienced a two-year wait for treatment," said Prof Dunn. "We have a moral responsibility to ensure that Queenslanders with cancer are receiving timely treatment."

The Cancer Council says hold-ups in getting access to treatment could cost lives. "A two-year delay in treatment for most types of cancer is too long and could have an impact on patient survival and quality of life. "With timely treatment, effective care and support, people have a much better chance of surviving and thriving after a cancer diagnosis," Prof Dunn said.

Long waits could also cause additional pain and distress for patients and their loved ones, he said. "The diagnosis and treatment of cancer is a major life stress for most people and brings with it a range of psychological challenges, including anxiety, depression and - for some - feelings of loneliness, confusion and fear of the future. "Over one-third of people diagnosed with cancer experience persistent, clinically significant distress, and carers often experience even higher distress than patients.

"A two-year waiting time could significantly exacerbate their distress, with adverse effects on the patient's treatment and recovery process."


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