Meeting with Anne Milton MP
Shadow Health Minister Healthcare Infections

Portcullis House, London
4th March 2008


In attendance:

Anne Milton MP, Shadow Health Minister Healthcare Infections

Derek Butler, Chair MRSA Action UK

Paul Kelly, North Cheshire Representative, MRSA Action UK



Paul Kelly and Derek Butler had the pleasure of meeting Anne Milton MP, Shadow Health Minister at Portcullis House. 


Anne personally welcomed Paul and Derek and was interested in the work that the Charity was undertaking.  She began the meeting by asking for a brief history of how the Charity was formed and how it had got thus far.  We gave her a resume of how we had come together through our experiences with healthcare infections, and how we had all been personally affected in one way or another.


Anne had mentioned that our Patron Edwina Currie had been in communication with her, and Anne asked how we had secured the services of Edwina as our Patron.  It was explained to Anne that the Charity had always wanted to have a Patron and that we were honoured that Edwina accepted our offer without hesitation as Patron.  Anne was pleased because she said that Edwina, with her experience, would contribute greatly to the work of the Charity, and that she would liaise with Edwina in any future working relationship with our Charity.


The meeting progressed with discussions around how our Charity could contribute in working with our elected representatives in trying to bring about the necessary changes to improve the patients' experience in our hospitals.  There was a general discussion around the initiatives that had been introduced, such as the screening of patients going into hospitals, the bare below the elbows, and the deep clean of the wards.  The delegates explained to Anne that the Charity had met with Mr Gregg Beales, the Prime Minister's Health Advisor at No.10 in October of last year, and that whilst we welcomed these initiatives we informed her that we believed that they were flawed and did not go far enough.


We explained in relation to the screening of patients for healthcare infections going into hospitals that we believe this did not go far enough as the problem was not just in the hospitals but it was being taken out into the community as well.


The Dutch approach to screening of patients in their Search and Destroy Policy was explained to Anne, in that the Dutch take the approach that if patients are bringing healthcare infections into the hospital from the community then you have to take the necessary action to reduce this natural reservoir.  Anne agreed with this thinking and said it was obviously a logical approach.  Both Anne and ourselves agreed that the screening programme had to be comprehensive in all its aspects and that we should be screening patients, not only coming into hospitals but on discharge as well.


On the bare below the elbows initiative, linking with the cleanyourhands campaign, Anne made the comment that maybe it should be called "wash your hands campaign" as there seems to be a great emphasis on alcohol gel use and not on actually washing the hands.  Hand hygiene should be fully comprehensive both in washing and in using alcohol gel, because as we mutually agreed C.diff is best combated using soap and water, and not having an over reliance on alcohol gel.  There was some discussion as to why there was not full compliance with hand hygiene, and we made the representation that the Dutch model in this area, hand hygiene is followed assiduously.  In the Netherlands they feel there is no need for a campaign to remind medical staff to clean their hands, because it is done without question.  This we believed was down to training.


With regard to the deep clean, both Anne and ourselves made the same comment, why are we deep cleaning something which should be clean to begin with, hospitals should be clean at all times, and if we have to deep clean to reduce healthcare infections then we should be ashamed of the condition of our hospitals.


We explained to Anne that we had secured as our President, Professor Hugh Pennington from Aberdeen.  It was explained to Anne that as a Charity that campaigns in respect to Healthcare Infections we felt it necessary to obtain the services of a microbiologist.  Professor Pennington was the first name that came to mind, and as with Edwina, when we asked him to become our President he accepted without hesitation.  Anne was presented with the speech that Professor Pennington gave to the Parliamentary Scientific Committee in January when he spoke on behalf of our Charity as President.  We informed Anne that this was a proud moment for our Charity, and that we believed that having both Edwina and Hugh as part of our Charity is a great honour.


Anne was presented with two documents that the Charity had produced, the first being "The Case for Implementing a Search and Destroy Policy" which was originally presented to No.10, and the second document was MRSA Action UK's discussion paper "Human Performance, Tools and Techniques, Implementing Quality, Safe Care".  Anne was very pleased to receive these documents and gave us an assurance that she would read them thoroughly.


The delegates then informed Anne that representation had been made to the Health Select Committee in respect of putting the Charity's case before them for actions we believe should be taken in combating healthcare infections.  Anne was pleased that we had made these representations and graciously said that she would follow up with a letter to the Chair of the Health Select Committee recommending that they speak to us.


We informed Anne that the Charity was being proactive in its work in combating healthcare infections and that the Charity could be used as a reference group for our elected representatives to glean information from.  Anne did make the comment that as Shadow Health Ministers they did not enjoy the same luxury as Cabinet Ministers in having researchers available.  We made representation to Anne to offer the services of the Charity in this area as we have done with the Cabinet Ministers.


We all felt that the meeting had been fruitful and informative and that the dialogue will continue.  Anne did make representation that we could communicate with her and if there were any issues that we would like raising she would do her utmost on this issue.



 From left to right:  Paul Kelly, Anne Milton MP, Derek Butler


The meeting ended with one request for a photograph with Anne and ourselves, Anne again graciously agreed without hesitation.  As a final comment Paul and Derek thought that Anne in her position as a Shadow Health Minister made us feel very welcome and at ease in her company, our Charity looks forward to working with Anne in the future.


For more information contact Derek Butler


Telephone: 07762 741114

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