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Press articles March - June 2007

Once bitten, twice shy...
Allister Craddock
The Politics Show
June 22nd 2007

Moya Stevenson says she won't go into hospital for a bowel operation even though she has been told she needs surgery. After contracting MRSA she is terrified of setting foot in hospital again.
Moya tells Robin Powell that local trusts and the Department of Health should be doing much more to combat infectious diseases including Clostridium difficile.
Moreover, the head of the Centre for Healthcare Associated Infections, Professor Richard James, agrees.

Conference planned
Next week his Nottingham-based unit will host a special conference of health professionals who are doing all they can to contain the problem. He believes this week’s survey from the Healthcare Commission does not give a true picture of the extent to which NHS trusts comply with hygiene regulations. One in four trusts admitted they failed to meet requirements. But Prof. James says the figures may be a lot worse. The government has just introduced random testing of hospital procedures and he believes this will give a more accurate picture of what’s really happening. He joins us in the studio in the week that the Conservatives have announced that they would abolish government targets for reducing waiting list times. Would this help reduce infections? Would lower bed occupancy make cleaners’ jobs easier? And bearing in mind that many people already have MRSA when they enter hospital, is it time all trusts were forced to test patients for MRSA on admission?
Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2007/06/22 11:42:52 GMT (c) BBC MMVII

Fall in Hospital Trusts’ Compliance with Infection Control Measures
19 June 2007

The number of trusts declaring compliance with infection control measures fell by 6.8 percent in the last year with a staggering one in four Trusts not compliant with the new measures in the Hygiene Code. We are dismayed at these results as this means people continue to suffer and die from what are largely very preventable hospital infections.

Government needs to target resources and energy into making our hospitals safe and clean rather than chase targets that in our opinion are exacerbating the problem, high bed occupancy rates and years of underinvestment and cuts in spending on cleanliness are the principle contributors, and still many doctors do not wash their hands between patients. Derek Butler, Chair was interviewed yesterday live on BBC Radio as the breaking news hit the headlines to listen to the five minute interview here (the file may approximately 30 seconds to download)

New superbug on increase at hospital
Jun 13 2007
By Dave Goodban, Crewe Chronicle

HEALTH bosses say the increasing number of patients testing positive for a potentially killer bug at Leighton Hospital in Crewe is not a cause for concern.
Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act reveal 102 patients were diagnosed with Clostridium Difficile (C. diff) in the first four months of 2007, more than two-thirds the number of cases recorded in the whole of last year.
Between April 2006 and April this year, 223 inpatients tested had the bug, which can cause ulceration, bleeding from the colon, peritonitis and even death, in their system. Five Leighton patients died after acquiring the infection during the 12-month period.

Mid Cheshire Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs the hospital, also revealed 22 patients had contracted the MRSA ‘superbug’ during the same period, though the number of deaths from MRSA was not disclosed.

Local campaigner Mavis Law, of the MRSA Action UK group, lost her son to MRSA and said the figures are of great concern.

‘The situation isn’t improving,’ she said. ‘It must be awful for patients when they’re already ill to contract such a terrible infection.

‘We can only imagine what they’re going through. It must be horrendous.’
Nationally, MRSA cases, currently around 7,000 a year, are falling.
But health chiefs admit C. diff is a growing problem.

A trust spokeswoman put the sharp rise down to an outbreak of another virus earlier this year. As a result, the number of people tested increased by 11% and the number of people carrying C. diff in a harmless form distorted the figures, she said.

The trust’s associate director of infection prevention, Karen Egan, said: ‘Members of staff have worked extremely hard to ensure that high standards of infection prevention and control have impacted on rates of healthcare-associated infections, patient care and clinical outcomes.’

Factfile: Clostridium difficile
* Clostridium difficile (C. diff) is a bacterium present naturally in the stomach of about 3% of adults and 66% of children.

* C. diff doesn’t cause any problems in healthy people. However, some antibiotics that are used to treat other conditions can interfere with the balance of ‘good’ bacteria in the gut. When this happens, C. diff bacteria can multiply and cause diarrhoea, ulceration and bleeding from the colon (colitis) and, at worst, perforation of the intestine leading to peritonitis. In rare cases it can be fatal

* The infection is more prevalent in elderly patients with underlying illnesses.

* C. diff infections can be prevented by good hygiene practices. However, it is extremely contagious and is spread very easily.

* In most cases the disease develops after cross-infection from another patient, either through direct patient to patient contact, or via healthcare staff.

A Dirty Weekend in Hospital: Mischief
Wednesday 13 June
7:00pm - 8:00pm

This programme was made in 2005 and members and friends of MRSA Action UK were brought together to make a very public statement about what we thought of the standards of cleanliness in our hospitals. Trained by infection control nurses we went armed with gloves, mops and buckets and cleaned in the public areas of ten of the UK’s dirtiest hospitals. The Department of Health refused to comment on our actions at the time.< /p>

New MRSA test “takes 10 minutes”
Sunday Herald article

By Judith Duffy, Health Correspondent
NHS hospitals to trial speedy screening process

A NEW system which enables patients to be screened for MRSA in just 10 minutes is set to undergo trials in the NHS.
The technology, developed in conjunction with experts at Strathclyde University, uses naturally occurring viruses that prey on bacteria as a sensor to detect for the superbug. Swabs taken from patients are read on a machine - similar to those used in bank ATMs - which nurses on wards can directly access, instead of having to send tests to a laboratory.

The firm behind the system claims it will allow staff to identify quickly the estimated 80% of people who are not carrying MRSA (methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus) and allow them to concentrate infection control measures on high-risk patients.

Although scientists are still working on the final stages of the development of the system, it is anticipated that clinical trials will begin later this year in up to four NHS hospitals across the UK, including one in Scotland.

Experts have repeatedly called for widespread screening to be introduced to tackle the high rates of MRSA in hospitals across the UK, an approach which has proved successful in other countries such as Holland. Health watchdog body NHS Quality Improvement Scotland is currently assessing if some form of MRSA screening should be introduced north of the Border.

David Stokes, director of sales and marketing at Blaze Venture Technologies, the company developing the test, said a major advantage of the new system was the speed of results compared with the normal NHS tests.

“You get the initial screening result in 10 minutes, directly at the point of care, as opposed to two, three or four days for conventional culture testing,” he said. “That allows for better patient management, as you can separate people who are negative from people who are carriers of staphylococcus aureus, which is the family of bugs that includes MRSA.

“This means that staff can focus their barrier precautions - such as gloves, gowns, handwashing - on a limited number of patients who are known to be carriers of staphylococcus aureus.”

Stokes added that while the pricing of the system would not be known until the clinical trials were underway, it was anticipated it would be “highly cost effective”.

The system harnesses natural bacteriophages - viruses which are harmless to humans but attack and destroy bacteria. They have been as viewed as possible weapons against bacteria since the 1920s, but one major problem has been that they rapidly become inactive unless they remain waterborne.

However, scientists at Strathclyde University have developed technology which enables them to survive for around two weeks in a dry atmosphere. Inventor Dr Mike Mattey, from the university’s institute for pharmacy and biomedical sciences, said: “What we have developed is a means of immobilising them onto surfaces and one of the effects of that is to make them much more stable.”

The new MRSA test involves taking a swab from the patient and wiping it onto a card coated with a light-emitting bacteriophage. The virus quickly multiplies when MRSA is present and can be detected by the machine, allowing staff to determine if the patient is potentially carrying the infection in as little as 10 minutes.

Dr Dugald Baird, a consultant microbiologist at Hairmyres Hospital, Lanarkshire, said that the “novel approach” of the system was welcome, but cautioned that speedy testing was not necessarily viewed as top priority in tackling the superbug.

“When it comes to predicting MRSA control in a hospital setting, there are one or two people looking at mathematical models and rapid diagnostic methods don’t feature highly on the list,” he said. “More important is the availability of isolation facilities, putting patients that you think are at risk of being MRSA carriers safely into a single room before you know the results of screening them.”

Derek Butler, chairman of patient group MRSA Action UK, questioned whether cost issues would deter hospitals from using such new technologies.

“Anything that helps to reduce infections is welcome and costs should not come into it,” he said. “We believe all tools should be used in the fight to prevent infections being spread - technologies, hand hygiene and cleanliness; everything will play its part.”

Superbug deaths up 30-fold in decade
Telegraph article

By Laura Donnelly, Health Correspondent, Sunday Telegraph
Last Updated: 11:36pm BST 12/05/2007
A huge rise in deaths linked to the superbug MRSA in just over a decade has been revealed in official figures.

The number of death certificates that name the infection as a “contributory factor” has soared from 51 cases in 1993 - the first year in which records were kept - to 1,629 in 2005, a 30-fold increase.

Experts and campaigners believe that even this figure is only the tip of the iceberg because many hospitals try to avoid listing MRSA as a cause of death if they can find alternative explanations.

Ministers admitted the scale of the rise after being questioned in the Commons last week. Officials sought to explain the figures by saying that many deaths involving MRSA were those of “patients who were admitted to hospital because they were already seriously ill with another condition”.

Three years ago when John Reid was the health secretary, he pledged to halve the MRSA rate by 2008. In January, however, a leaked memo revealed not only that the deadline would not be met but that the target might never be achieved. The memo admitted that a certain level of MRSA was unavoidable, but could not specify what that level was.

Britain has one of the worst MRSA rates in Europe, ranking only above Malta, Romania, Cyprus and Portugal.

The latest figures show that, after peaking in 2004/05, the number of infections is beginning to drop. In the last quarter of 2006, the latest recorded figure, the number of cases fell by 7 per cent to 1,542. However, the statistics only cover cases where the infection is carried in the bloodstream. Experts say these account for less than 10 per cent of all MRSA infections and exclude thousands of cases affecting organs or wounds.

Dr Mark Enright, a microbiologist at Imperial College, London said: “I would expect that the death figures substantially under-report the true situation. In a lot of cases, MRSA doesn’t make it on to the death certificate when it should. Instead you see organ failure, pneumonia, or sepsis.

“Often it is hard to say exactly how much of a contribution MRSA caused to the death, but there is a tendency not to include it.”

Dr Enright, who accused the Government of focusing on waiting lists and NHS targets at the expense of infection control, described the rise in MRSA over the past 12 years as “startling”. He said that neither the number of deaths officially linked to MRSA nor the rate of bloodstream infections provided a full picture.

“I would say bloodstream infections account for 10 per cent of the infections in total,” he said. “If people tested every infection, the rate would be far, far higher.”

Prof Hugh Pennington, emeritus professor of bacteriology at Aberdeen University, said that the best chance of stopping the spread of MRSA had come in the early Nineties when the number of cases began to rise sharply. However, such was the focus on “pushing patients through the system” that the government at the time had failed to invest in isolation facilities and screening systems, which were key to tackling the bug.

John Howard Crews, 50, died in hospital in December 2003, three months after suffering a heart attack. His death certificate recorded the cause of death as pneumonia and cardiac failure. However, his stepson Derek Butler, who witnessed the last six hours of his stepfather’s life in which he was “coiled up in a foetal position with his legs turned blue”, was convinced an infection was to blame. When he and his mother asked questions of Blackpool Victoria Hospital, it emerged that Mr Howard Crews’s lungs were “profusely infected with MRSA” and that the infection had been identified a week before his death.

Mr Butler, who chairs the campaign group MRSA Action UK, said his stepfather had been betrayed by the Government’s failure to tackle soaring rates of infection. “Tony Blair told the British people that they had 24 hours to save the NHS,” he said. “He had the opportunity to do it and he failed.”

Andrew Lansley, shadow health secretary, said the Government’s “target culture” and the resulting high bed occupancy rates had allowed MRSA to become “endemic”. “Evidence shows that bed occupancy rates remain too high, with many nurses still reporting that there isn’t time to clean beds thoroughly between patients,” he said.

Katherine Murphy, of the Patients Association, said: “We need more accurate reporting. “We hear time and time again of cases where there is MRSA but the death certificate says pneumonia, or a chest infection, and it is only when relatives start asking questions that they find out that MRSA was present.”

Could a bullfrog hold the answer to MRSA?

AMERICAN bullfrogs could help to solve the problem of the MRSA superbug blighting hospital wards, Scottish scientists revealed yesterday.
A team from St Andrews University has been experimenting using a material discovered in the frogs, combining it with another compound to fight infection. They found that the new treatment killed the MRSA bacterium during tests in the lab, and now hope to move on to clinical trials. The treatment could be used in patients on wards in the next two years, the lead researcher, Dr Peter Coote, said.

The compound might eventually be used on bandages and on hospital equipment to stop the spread of the infection, which kills about 2,000 people a year in the UK. Dr Coote, a microbiologist at the university, said they used a synthetic form of ranalexin from the Rana frog species.

Scientists found that the compound had infection-fighting qualities around a decade ago. They have since been able to create the same compound in the lab, meaning frogs are not needed for large-scale production. The researchers at St Andrews have now combined ranalexin with the enzyme lysostaphin, finding that it had a “potent and significant” inhibitory effect on MRSA.

Dr Coote said there were extra benefits to be gained from using two compounds to target MRSA - methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. “If you treat with a single antibiotic, it is only a matter of time before the infection becomes resistant to it,” he said.

“If you combine two together, there is a lot less chance of it becoming resistant, because the MRSA has to overcome two compounds instead of one. As resistance is a big problem with MRSA, this is really important.” Dr Coote said the two compounds killed the organism extremely quickly and effectively in the 18-month study, which was funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.
The researchers have now applied for a further grant that they hope will allow them to continue their research, which they have now patented. They have also been in touch with pharmaceutical companies to see if the treatment could be marketed commercially in the future.
While the compounds could not be taken orally, Dr Coote said they could be developed into a cream that could be applied to wounds and also used in hospital equipment.

“We have shown that this works in the lab - now we want to see if it would work in a topical application, like around the surface of a catheter,” added Dr Coote. “We need to explore these questions to see if it is clinically or commercially viable,” he said. “If it works, then it could be a very good way of preventing MRSA.”

The research is published by the British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy. The Scottish Executive has set a target of reducing all Staphylococcus aureus infections, including MRSA, by 30 per cent by 2010.

More than 1,000 MRSA cases are diagnosed in Scottish hospitals each year. Rates have now stabilised, but have yet to drop.
Moya Stevenson, of campaign group MRSA Action UK, welcomed the research. She said: “This is interesting, but what is starting to happen more now is using silver in dressings and on instruments because that has been clearly shown to fight MRSA.

“Other treatments may be cheaper, but what cost can you put on a life?”

AMERICAN bullfrogs have not always enjoyed the best reputation in the UK.

Last year, the Scottish Executive included the warty creature on a list of “alien and invasive” species it is trying to stop spreading.

The plan is to cut down on the number of non-native plants and animals, such as the bullfrog, which are aggressively colonising Scotland, pushing out native species. The supersized frogs - much bigger than those usually found in the UK - have somehow found their way across the Atlantic. It is possible they arrived by accident, as tadpoles in bags of imported pond plants or fish.

Weighing in at 1lb and measuring 8in long, the American bullfrog, part of the Rana frog species, has been blamed for spreading a fungal disease in the UK. The fungus kills toads and frogs that have recently turned from tadpoles. The bullfrog’s favourite foods include fish, small birds and other frogs. But things may at last be looking up for the bullfrog, because a compound that it produces could help to kill MRSA.

Scientists are also studying other types of frogs in the hope that nature will reveal new treatments. Researchers have found several medical uses for compounds extracted from frog secretions, including painkillers, antibiotics and even a possible treatment for schizophrenia.
The full article contains 832 words and appears in The Scotsman newspaper.
Last Updated: 30 April 2007 9:28 PM

28 April 2007
Daily Telegraph

A NOTTS-based action group urged the Government to “get to grips” with the problem of superbugs.

MRSA Action UK spoke out following this week’s quarterly superbug figures, published by the Health Protection Agency. They showed that the bug clostridium difficile was on the rise in Notts hospitals and nationally.

Derek Butler, Chairman of MRSA Action UK, said the report made “very disappointing reading”. “It showed that the Government and the Health Service are not getting to grips with the problem of healthcare-associated infections in our hospitals.

“It is our opinion that the Government and the DoH will never have control of this situation until there is proper reporting of the true extent of the rate of infections in our hospitals.” There were 735 cases of C-diff at Nottingham University Hospitals last year, up from 509 the previous year.

Case study 1: Struck down within 24 hours
Telegraph article

Last Updated: 12:01am BST25/04/2007
Felix Lowe investigates an MRSA battle that erupted in less than a day

When Moya Stevenson checked into Sherwood Forest NHS Trust for routine elective surgery to remove a hernia in her stomach, the last thing she expected was a six-month battle against MRSA.

“It was astonishing,” said Miss Stevenson, now 46. “I entered the hospital fit and well and on my two feet. I was in the building for less than 24 hours - and yet that was all it took.”

The day after her operation, her wound became red and inflamed while she suffered a strong fever. A week later her scar burst and she was subsequently re-admitted to hospital due to a collection of fluid in and around the wound.

She said: “Despite the obvious warning signs, it took the doctors six weeks to diagnose what it was -profuse MRSA. It took a further six months for the hole in my stomach to close.” After constant to-ing and fro-ing between home and hospital, she felt “battered like a tennis ball”.

At one point the wound was 3.5ins long, 3.5ins wide and 2ins deep.

Although “oblivious to the risk of infection” prior to the operation, she admitted that: “Looking back, it was a disaster waiting to happen. I vividly recall going into the hospital. There were no theatre trolleys, everyone was put on to a bed and wheeled into the theatre.

“Afterwards, I went from a sterile atmosphere to being put on to one of the many beds which were bunched together and used by everyone. There was no indication that it had been cleaned. No one wore gloves and when the nurse came to see me, she sat on my bed.”

Two months after contracting MRSA, she still experienced dirty rooms when she was re-admitted after a further scare. She said: “I once had to tell a doctor to glove up and put on an apron because I was MRSA positive. That was the final straw. I had now lost all trust and confidence with the hospital.”

Miss Stevenson is now the funding and promotions manager of MRSA Action UK, a registered charity which aims to raise public awareness of the infection and influence government policy.

“They hold MRSA conferences but still there is no change,” she said. “New hygiene codes have been brought in but my concerns are who is monitoring compliance? That is the only way reduction is going to come about. My NHS trust still has the same number of MRSA cases - 48 a year - as it did back in 2001.”

A spokesman for Sherwood Forest NHS Trust said: “There’s no evidence that Miss Stevenson caught MRSA at our hospital.”

Case study 2: Hot sweats and trembling

A contraction of MRSA lead to a fatal family tragedy, writes Felix Lowe

The last 18 months of Irene Brailsford’s life were an unrelenting nightmare after she contracted both MRSA and Clostridium difficile during routine treatment at Kings Mill hospital in Nottinghamshire.

“It’s a real family tragedy,” said her daughter, Sheila Johnson, of Mansfield. “The whole tale is horrific from start to finish.”

A bladder cancer survivor, Mrs Brailsford was left incontinent for 15 weeks after picking up a strong infection, suspected to be MRSA, after a cystoscopy, an examination of the inside of the bladder.

A later operation to remove an abscess from her toe, which should have taken three days, led to six weeks in hospital when tests showed that MRSA was still in her bloodstream.

Despite the infection being confirmed, the staff at Kings Mill did not undergo the requisite steps to combat the infection. “Their procedures for MRSA were nil, nothing,” recalled Mrs Johnson. “In the six weeks she was in hospital she did not have a hair shampoo once. She wasn’t given any nasal cream and all she got was a little tube of body wash and medications she could not swallow.”

Once discharged, Mrs Brailsford suffered severe diarrhoea, one symptom of C difficile. “We knew that C difficile was rife in the hospital,” she said.

A positive test was confirmed, although the hospital claimed the infection was contracted at home and stressed the MRSA medication taken by Mrs Brailsford had left her open to contracting C difficile.

Last November, Mrs Brailsford had a check-up on her toe during which the nurse insisted on removing the scab. Another MRSA infection followed. Mrs Brailsford had her toe amputated and saw her foot turn black. She spent the last two months of her life “in hot sweats and trembling”.

Her family said she was doped up so high, she became a morphine addict. In the end, she just wanted it to all finish.”

Days after her 80th birthday, she died of pneumonia. The death certificate drawn up by the hospital bore no mention of MRSA and it was refused by Mrs Johnson until Kings Mill admitted responsibility.

A Kings Mill spokesman said: “We are pulling out all the stops to combat MRSA and C difficile. We encourage good hygiene all the time.”

A huge rise in deaths linked to the superbug MRSA in just over a decade has been revealed in official figures.

09 April 2007

Superbug researchers are asking mourners to consider cash donations instead of floral tributes at funerals. Scientists at the University of Nottingham hope families who have lost loved ones to MRSA and clostridium difficile will help to fund their work. They need more than £100,000 a year to carry out projects, such as improving tests to spot the superbugs and finding new drugs to combat them. Experts at the new Centre for Healthcare Associated Infections, opened by actress Leslie Ash earlier this year, say they need help to raise the cash.

Professor Richard James, director of the centre, said cash was vital to keep research going and hoped those whose lives had been affected by the superbugs would help prevent others going through the same ordeal. “We are attempting to raise significant additional funding, including donations,” he said. “This will assist the Centre for Healthcare Associated Infections in its aims to act as a source of information and advice, and to support our ambitious research programmes. “There are no charities who provide research funding. “We therefore hope the public will consider supporting our research efforts. We hope this will offer patients and their families an opportunity to do something in response to a problem that affects the lives of so many people in the UK.

“All donations from taxpayers can be made under the gift aid scheme.” Extra cash will speed up research efforts by paying for new PhD students and post-doctoral researchers. It will also kick-start projects to assess how widespread infections are. Funding for a PhD student costs £25,000 a year, while a postdoctoral researcher would be £50,000. The centre hopes to raise £100,000 a year in order to recruit at least one additional postdoctoral researcher and two PhD students. “We do not have enough pairs of hands funded by traditional research funding sources to do everything that we can in order to help reduce the incidence of healthcare associated infections,” said Prof James.

“The scale of the problem of healthcare associated infections has not yet been fully addressed by the Department of Health and the Research Councils, so that available public funds for research in this important area are still limited.” Moya Stevenson, an MRSA survivor-turned-campaigner, helped set up MRSA Action UK - the country’s first official charity for victims of the superbug - after contracting it following a routine operation at King’s Mill Hospital, Sutton-in-Ashfield, during 2004.

Mrs Stevenson, 46, of Sutton, said it made her feel like her blood “was on fire”. She has helped countless families of MRSA and C-Diff victims come to terms with their loss. She said her charity relied on donations from families to put pressure on the Government to provide more cash to researchers like Prof James. She supported his work in finding a vaccine but added that families who did not want to donate to the centre could donate to MRSA Action UK.

“We had a local family donate £150 recently instead of paying for flowers, after a woman died from MRSA. “She’d been in hospital and got C-Diff and recovered but ended up contracting MRSA when a scab came off her foot,” Mrs Stevenson said. “We support Prof James’ work but he can get grants from the lottery or the Department of Health and we can’t - we need money to pay for the support we give and to pay for trips to Parliament to put pressure on the Government. “But I would certainly encourage anyone affected by a hospital associated infection to donate their money to help find a prevention for this problem.”


30 March 2007
An MRSA vaccine will come too late for thousands of victims but survivors are delighted about the breakthrough. Health correspondent CLARE BOYD speaks to Notts survivors who are proud the research is happening so close to home.

Mum-of-two Claire Scothern caught MRSA after losing both legs to another severe blood infection. The 36-year-old fell ill soon after second son Thomas was delivered by Caesarean section. The first infection turned her legs black. Doctors were forced to amputate below the knee and it was then she caught the superbug MRSA. She has since learnt to walk on artificial legs and is determined to live life to the full. Claire, from Sutton-in-Ashfield, was delighted that a vaccine to stop others going through a similar ordeal could be on the way.

“It would be fantastic,” she said. “And it is great this work is being done here in Nottingham. “We get so much bad press, but something like this is brilliant for Notts and Britain.” She added: “I had fantastic care at the Queen’s Medical Centre so it is great to think this is linked to the hospital and the university.”

As much as she praised the pioneering work, Claire said healthcare professionals still needed to remember the basics. “Handwashing, keeping uniforms clean and general cleanliness are all so important,” she said. Another Notts resident who has battled the superbug is Trevor Garner. He was struck down with MRSA after a vicious street attack and is still recovering from his horrendous injuries. Trevor was keen to praise the work of the researchers.

“I am as proud as punch for them,” he said. “MRSA is a high-profile bug; it is always in the press and on TV. If they have found something that could prevent it in some patients then that’s great.” The dad-of-two, from West Bridgford, was hit on the head with a metal object and later developed a huge blood clot on his brain. He was saved by brain surgery at the QMC but was left unable to speak. He also developed pneumonia and caught MRSA.

The 47-year-old, who was in hospital for three months and had to learn to speak again, is still recovering. He said: “Luckily, the doctors caught it in time, but you hear about some awful cases of MRSA. “Anything that combats it is a positive.”

Moya Stevenson, an MRSA survivor-turned-campaigner, had mixed views on a future vaccine. She set up the country’s first official charity for victims of the superbug after contracting it following a routine operation at King’s Mill Hospital in 2004. Mrs Stevenson, 46, of Sutton-in-Ashfield, said the bug made her feel like her blood “was on fire”.

Mrs Stevenson has been campaigning for more research into stopping the bug. She is the regional representative for MRSA Action UK in the East Midlands. She said: “Quite a lot of research is going on and a vaccine does sound interesting. “It is one way forward but you have to ask if drugs are the answer when they are the cause in the first place. Are we just going to create more problems in the future?” Mrs Stevenson was at the Healthcare Associated Infection 2007 conference in London on Wednesday. Speakers included Thea Daha, from the Dutch Society of Infection Prevention and Control in Healthcare, and Linda Hill-Tout, from the Expert Steering Group on Healthcare Associated Infection for the Health Protection Agency and Department of Health. Mrs Stevenson said: “We have got the ear of the Government. We’ve done extremely well to get this far.”
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