MRSA Action UK tribute

The Memorial Event at Westminster Abbey
28th June 2012

The Board of Trustees of MRSA Action UK met members and friends at Westminster Abbey on Thursday 28th June 2012 for the service at the Innocent Victims Memorial Stone and laying of floral tributes. We were joined by our Patron, former Health Minister, Edwina Currie. Unfortunately, despite the weather being beautiful in London, the not so good weather in the North prevented our President Professor Hugh Pennington attending, as his flight from Aberdeen was cancelled due to fog. Sixty other flights from Aberdeen were cancelled that day and both West and East coast trains to Scotland were not running because of track damage. Hugh was very much looking forward to coming to the event and gave his apologies.

The service was very moving and prayers were led by Reverend Canon Ralph Godsall, paying tribute to the many who have died from MRSA and other healthcare associated infections. We received a blessing granting rest to those who have died, and grace to those who live to campaign and work to raise awareness and help avoid further suffering from avoidable healthcare infections.

Steve Owen and Edwina Currie laid the charity's main wreath, made in the shape of our blue ribbon, designed and donated by Minka of Rosalie Owen's florist.

Edwina then laid a wreath in memory of John Howard Crews who died from MRSA aged 54.

Valerie Jenkyns laid a wreath in memory of her husband Clifford Jenkyns who died last November from MRSA aged 73.

Helen Bronstein's daughter Harriet laid a wreath in memory of Joyce Morrison, Helen's Mum

Julia Owen laid a tribute from staff at Molnlycke Healthcare

Sue Fallon laid a tribute for her daughter Sammie, who died aged just 17 with MRSA. John Galvin is pictured laying a tribute to his wife Patricia Galvin who died aged 68.

Wendy Slack laid a tribute to Colin Law who died aged 34 from MRSA. John Galvin is pictured laying a tribute to his wife Patricia Galvin who died aged 68.

Sue Spratt lays a wreath in memory of her dear husband Fred who died from Clostridium difficile.

Steve Owen laid a tribute from staff at Bedford Hospital

We all pray and receive a blessing from the Reverend Canon Ralph Godsall.

Our thanks go to the Dean and Canon who made us welcome, the Canon said we were welcome to stay and reflect in what was now an 'oasis' with the beautiful flowers. The service was a moving experience and one that we will remember, albeit with great sadness.

Derek Butler, Chair, is pictured with Edwina Currie, Patron, and Dr Harley Farmer after the service

Derek talks to some tourists from the Netherlands who are in nursing and are aware of the measures needed to combat drug resistant bacteria that account for illness and deaths to MRSA and other healthcare associated infections.

Following the service members and guests went to the Westminster Archive Centre for a Reception where Derek Butler gave an overview of events and achievements since last year's memorial service.

Reception, Westminster Archive Centre

Guest Speaker Simon Clare outlined the work of his charity, the Association of Aseptic Practitioners and their vision for a standardisation of aseptic practice to bring about safer healthcare. Simon's presentation outlined the scale of the problem of healthcare associated infections and how asepsis can play a significant part in their prevention.

In 2009 The House of Commons Public Accounts Committee received a report from the National Audit Office outlining that the best estimate for patients acquiring a healthcare associated infection in hospital as 300,000, costing the NHS an estimated £1 billion a year. Simon emphasised that most, if not all, healthcare associated infections must be considered preventable. Amongst the key things in preventing avoidable harm are the standards of interaction between the healthcare practitioner and the patient. If poor practice occurs, be that by contamination of the hands through poor hand hygiene, or re-use of what are often perceived as innocuous object such as tourniquets that are carried around in doctors' pockets, then we see patients getting infections that could have been avoided. Aseptic non-touch technique is a clinical practice that aims to provide optimal care through the practice of providing an aseptic field for any equipment or devices that are going to be invasive for the patient. Key parts of equipment are not touched during treatment or insertion, reducing risk of micro-organisms being introduced into the insertion point or wound.

Asepsis is described the practice of keeping the equipment, wound or insertion point free from micro-organisms that have the potential to cause contamination. Unfortunately there is often confusion and ambiguity, often in trusted sources, such as the NICE guidelines and as in the BJN article "The benefits of intermittent self catheterisation", these descriptions highlight ambiguity:

"intermittent self catheterisation may be carried out using a sterile technique or a clean technique"

"nurses and other health professionals use a sterile (aseptic, non-touch) technique in hospital"

"and most patients are taught to use a clean (socially clean but not aseptic) technique in the community".

In 2002 a covert study in a large teaching hospital identified that 46% of staff did not use a non touch technique, 51% didn't manage their aseptic field safely, 45% contaminated key parts, other areas of non-compliance included not washing hands at the appropriate time and not allowing key parts to dry before use. A focus on hand hygiene, aseptic non touch technique and a robust screening programme were amongst the top high impact interventions cited by Barnet and Chase Farm hospital, raising standards from being one of the hospitals with a poor reputation for HCAIs to one of the best.

Both MRSA Action UK and AAP believe there should be a standardised practice that should be adhered to. Australia is the first country to enshrine this standard into their clinical guidelines and we believe we should follow.

From a patient perspective simple guidelines published and posted in wards and treatment rooms outlining the standards we can expect can be empowering, it would give the opportunity to point out any lapses in standards that are there to protect us.

Simon's presentation showed that no other high risk industry would not have published standards, we believe healthcare, and particularly clinical care, should.

Maria Cann outlined how knowing about ANTT had empowered her during treatment at her local hospital, she was able to ask that ANTT was followed assiduously during a procedure. The experience had begun badly by her having to ask for a clean sheet to be placed on the bed, however despite the lack in confidence at the start of the procedure, ANTT was practiced very well. The treatment ended with another nurse sitting on the bed - despite the fact that patients are constantly reminded not to sit on beds, this nurse set a poor example. ANTT was followed, but attention to infection prevention should have been better in terms of the whole experience. Poor practice needs to be addressed by colleagues, strong leadership allowing a culture of zero tolerance to avoidable harm, praising those who challenge.

Dr Harley Farmer, author of the novel "The Reaper's Rainbow", spoke of working to standards and not being afraid to challenge conventional ways of working. Barriers to handwashing can include the effects of products being used that may cause dry skin or eczema, was there a need to stand back and take a different approach. Changing behaviours to achieve optimum compliance to hand hygiene should not be complex, yet we tell the patient stories of those who are lost to avoidable infections, and still we know compliance is lax.

Jill Moss founder of the Bella Moss Foundation spoke of her experience of veterinary practice when her dog Bella, the first dog to be diagnosed with a human strain of MRSA, was refused treatment. Jill was campaigning for standardised practices in veterinary practice, ANTT would be as beneficial in this setting. Jill contracted MRSA in her foot at the time of Bella's illness and passing.

MRSA and other healthcare associated infections are commonly shared with companion animals and a focus in community practice was needed.

It was a privilege to meet members, friends and colleagues from across healthcare. To view our special tribute and record of the service please visit

If you or someone you care about has been affected by a healthcare associated infection and you wish to discuss this with us, please contact us at

The information on this website is for general purposes only and is not a substitute for qualified medical care, if you are unwell please seek medical advice.

(c) MRSA Action UK 2012