Press & media
Press and media contact: Derek Butler, Chair
ITV Tonight October 24th 2013 7.30pm
When the drugs don't work
Tragic Sammy Fallon died of an MRSA-connected illness at the age of 17. Her mum Sue spoke to Tonight.
"The pharmaceutical companies need to do more research and try and find antibiotics that will fight these superbugs. And the doctors need to stop just giving people antibiotics for no reason because that's why we're becoming immune to them."
- SUE FALLON
The programme looks at the international nature of the problem, and accompanies Professor Tim Walsh of Cardiff University in India as he takes samples of water from the Ganges River. He is looking for an enzyme called NDM1 which converts normal bacteria into antibiotic resistant bugs.
Read the summary on ITV's website
Resistance to antibiotics risks health catastrophe
Monday 11th March 2013
MRSA Action UK responds to the Chief Medical Officer's first annual report and her comments.
Andrea Jenkyns spoke on Sky News
Steve Owen was interviewed on BBC Radio 5 Live and ITN News, Derek Butler spoke to BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC Radio Coventry, BBC Radio Lancashire, BBC Radio London, BBC News 24 and BBC World News.
The families affected by antimicrobial resistance feature in the news, the tragic consequences from contracting MRSA is a stark example of things to come if multi-drug resistance is left unchecked.
View the Chief Medical Officer's statement here
Listen to Derek Butler's BBC Radio 5 Live interview
Listen to Steve Owen's BBC Radio 5 Live interview
Listen to BBC Radio Coventry interview
Listen to BBC Radio Lancashire interview
Listen to BBC Radio London interview
Navigating the NHS
Antibiotic resistance 'poses catastrophic threat'
By Peter Russell
WebMD UK Health News
Medically Reviewed by Dr Sheena Meredith
11th March 2013 - Patients face a heightened risk of dying from even the most routine surgery in 20 years unless global action is taken to combat the growing threat of antibiotic resistance.
The warning comes in the second part of the Chief Medical Officer's annual report which examines the threat posed by antimicrobial resistance and infectious diseases.
Antibiotics have been widely used in medicine over the last 70 years to treat bacterial infections. In recent years it has become apparent that widespread use has led to antibiotic resistance and the prospect that some once potent types of antibiotic will be rendered useless.
For instance, penicillin is no longer effective for staphylococcal wound infections, while the synthetic antibiotic ciprofloxacin is now powerless against gonorrhoea. The value of many more antibiotics are under threat.
Calling for politicians to treat the threat as seriously as the MRSA bug, the Chief Medical Officer for England, Professor Dame Sally Davies, highlights a 'discovery void', with few new antibiotics in production. It means that, while new infectious diseases are found every year, few new antibiotics have been developed in the last two decades.
Experts say that the pharmaceutical industry is no longer geared up to produce new antibiotics so that, as a result, doctors now may have to fall back on 'reserve' antibiotics which may not be as effective or may have more side-effects.
The Chief Medical Officer is calling for the development of new drugs to be encouraged, while the life of the remaining stock of antibiotics should be prolonged by using better hygiene methods to reduce infections, prescribing fewer antibiotics and making sure they are only prescribed when needed.
In a statement, Dame Sally says: "Antimicrobial resistance poses a catastrophic threat. If we don't act now, any one of us could go into hospital in 20 years for minor surgery and die because of an ordinary infection that can't be treated by antibiotics. And routine operations like hip replacements or organ transplants could be deadly because of the risk of infection.
"That's why governments and organisations across the world, including the World Health Organization and G8, need to take this seriously."
The Department of Health says it will soon publish the UK Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy setting out how it will meet the challenge that the Chief Medical Officer has outlined. The five year plan will:
Champion the responsible use of antibiotics - by ensuring NHS staff have the skills, knowledge and training to prescribe and administer antibiotics appropriately. Part of this will include reviewing and updating the curricula for medical undergraduates.
Strengthen surveillance - by improving the recording of data on the numbers of antibiotics prescribed and trends in antibiotic resistance, this information can used by clinicians to change patterns of prescribing. This will help reduce the level of resistance and help ensure patients respond to treatments.
Encourage the development of new diagnostics, therapeutics and antibiotics, for example by continuing to support the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) and other initiatives that encourage scientific research.
Tackling production costs
Derek Butler, chair of MRSA Action UK, tells us that increasing production costs are behind the lack of new antibiotics coming on to the market. "When you consider it can cost anywhere between five hundred million and one thousand million pounds to develop a single antimicrobial, and then it has probably a shelf life of 10 years before the bacteria build up enough resistance to make them virtually useless, there isn't the money now in these types of drugs for the pharmaceutical companies to get the return on their investments."
Mr Butler says one possible solution would be to extend the licences awarded to pharmaceutical companies for medications that they can make money on so that they can afford to invest in producing new antibiotics. "It's about governments and pharmaceutical companies around the world working together," he adds.
View the article on the WebMD website
Drug-resistant infections pose a 'catastrophic threat'
Monday 11th March 2013
Our overuse and over-reliance on antibiotics has created a catastrophic threat to the population, the government's chief medical officer warned today.
Dame Sally Davies said drug-resistant infections could turn back time to the early nineteenth century when patients risked dying from routine operations.
ITV News' Medical Editor Lawrence McGinty reports:
Sky news desk
Monday 11th March 2013
Richard Suchet, Sky News Reporter
MRSA Action UK's Andrea Jenkyns talks to Richard Suchet about her father Clifford, who died following being told the antibiotics wouldn't work. More.....
BBC Radio 5 live broadcast
Tuesday 20th November 2012
On Tuesday 20th November members of MRSA Action UK took part in a broadcast on Radio 5 Live. This was in tandem with initiatives to coincide with European Antibiotic Awareness Day on 18th November and a number of events to raise awareness of the need to preserve our precious resource of antibiotics and use them wisely, whether a prescribing medical practitioner or a patient.
Radio 5 Live presenter Shelagh Fogarty posed the question "is the battle far from over with over 30,000 cases a year in England Wales and Northern Ireland?"
MRSA Action UK President Professor Hugh Pennington, Emeritus Professor of Microbiology at Aberdeen University, and the expert who has conducted public inquiries into E.coli outbreaks outlined the risks of how much more resistant strains were being seen. Urinary tract infections are becoming more common and can be life threatening, particularly if they are much more resistant. We were seeing strains that can swap genes. Machinery in ITU helped to create environments that are risky and patients were very susceptible. The use of antibiotics has helped develop resistance.
Professor Alan Johnson, Consultant Clinical Biologist at the Health Protection Agency, spoke of the different sorts of infections; the drop in the numbers of MRSA and C.diff cases reflects the actions taken, such as cleaning and other infection control measures.
E.coli often comes in from the community, people are taken ill in the community and being admitted, they are not always healthcare acquired infections. They do occur in the community; superbugs are strains of bacteria that have been become resistant to antibiotics. Antibiotics are a different strain of drug, their effectiveness is compromised by misuse, they have a dramatic ability to change DNA, genetic make up and have a very strong selective advantage, and resistant variants that are left will cause the problem.
The human body has a lot of bacteria, on the skin or up the nose, in the throat, every time we take an antibiotic, there will be resistance, the bacteria can move to a different part of the body.
Derek Butler, Chair of MRSA Action UK, spoke of how his father nearly died from E.coli, he survived and is now aged 91. He had previously had an infection in 2008. It was treated in hospital, but not aggressively, he seemed to pick up, but his health declined, in 2010 he was admitted again for a recurrence of the E.coli infection that caused an abscess on his liver, they tried to drain it and it burst going into his bloodstream, causing a bacteraemia. Antibiotic treatment was given aggressively, he was placed in ICU, but we were told they would not resuscitate, as he was so poorly that they believed he would not recover. He hadn't used antibiotics a lot, and had been fairly healthy over the last 30 odd years. He pulled through the critical stage and the infection was treated aggressively for 8 weeks, he was given only a 10% chance of survival, at age 89.
Hugh said that aggressive use was the right thing to do to treat the infection, antibiotics have to be used in the right dosage, there was a need to educate patients and doctors to give the antibiotics judiciously to have the best chance of fighting infection.
Shelagh Fogerty then asked Derek "I want to find out more about the charity, once your father had survived this, you started campaigning about MRSA?"
Derek said he was a founder member of the Charity MRSA Action UK, he lost 3 family members, there was nobody out there to support people who had been affected. The charity was set up following the loss of his stepfather John, aged 54, in 2003.
Staff and the medical profession need to do more, educate the public, raise awareness of the importance about the use of antibiotics, not just in the hospital but also on discharge into the community, everyone needs to realise it's not a finite resource. We have never known a time without antibiotics. In the 1940s people died from simple infections and we don't want to be in the same position again.
Hugh said that antibiotics were a special drug, bugs evolved in real time. Derek's father's generation knows. Infections can be treated very successfully. We need to extend the life of antibiotics.
The broadcast went live to Warrington and Halton Hospital to find out about the infection prevention and control measures that were in place to protect patients, and then to Julie Storr, President of the Infection Prevention Society and Andrea Jenkyns, Trustee of MRSA Action UK.
Shelagh Fogerty said 364 people died in England from MRSA, that's one person every day, it sounds like too many but if you compare it to five years ago there was more than 1,600 deaths, more than five a day. The government says it's because of its focus on education and hand washing and cleanliness has been a success, there is still concern though that complacency may creep back in though according to the Infection Prevention Society, a charity that campaigns for infection prevention, they believe there is a real risk that we could return to those high death rates.
Julie Storr said that we have seen a huge improvement over the past five to seven years, organisations are beginning to embed good practice, like hand hygiene, the IPS wants to continue to support the continuation of that focus. There are lots of examples of good practice that we can learn from, and from around the world as well.
Shelagh Fogarty invited Andrea to comment. Andrea described how her father had gone in for a routine procedure to drain some fluid from his lungs, a trainee doctor worked for two and a half hours to insert the drain and this was how he caught the MRSA. It was shocking, once he caught MRSA, there was one particular nurse who went to put cream in her dad's nose, she walked in, didn't wash her hands, put the cream up her dad's nose and walked out again and didn't wash her hands. Andrea went to the head nurse, who just looked at her blankly, and she just walked away and turned her back. This was a brand new hospital. Other things Andrea witnessed included many people not washing their hands.
Shelagh Fogarty asked Julie Storr what a relative should do if they see this kind of behaviour, with patients being dismissed by medical staff. Julie said that relatives should feel that they are able to ask staff to clean their hands. We need to educate staff to welcome the challenge, it's a right for patients and their relatives to know that they are being cared for in a safe and clean environment. It's about educating the public as well to recognise that they can challenge these medical professionals.
I know it doesn't bring your father back, but are you now committed to talking about this on air. Yes I joined MRSA Action UK as Trustee in March this year, and the things I've found out is shocking at a recent health conference with Julie and Derek, and the problem is global, in the USA there is only 8% compliance with hand washing.
Shelagh Fogarty closed by thanking us for taking part and said "I think that shows there is still much more to be done despite those successes."
Sky news desk
Wednesday 14th November
Sky News Health Correspondent Thomas Moore
A team of scientists halted an outbreak of MRSA in a special care baby unit by cracking the superbug's genetic code. It meant researchers were quickly able to identify the bacterial strain causing the outbreak and trace it back to one health worker. The worker was treated to remove the MRSA colonisation, which stopped the spread of the superbug in its tracks.
The scientists are now developing the concept into a simple system that can be used routinely by hospital staff who are not genetics experts. They are aiming to have it ready in a "few years".
Professor Sharon Peacock, from Cambridge University, who led the research team, said: "What we're working towards is effectively a 'black box'. Information on the genome sequence goes into the system and is interpreted, and what comes out the other end is a report to the health care worker."
She said the 'black box' would be able to give information about how the strain would react to antibiotics and about how quickly it could spread. Testing would cost just a few pounds and the results would be available in hours. The research was carried out at the special care baby unit at the Rosie Hospital in Cambridge, part of Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
Hand-washing routines have been used to contain the spread of MRSA. The scientists used a technique called rapid whole genome sequencing, which maps an organism's entire genetic code, to analyse MRSA bacteria taken from 12 babies.
The team was quickly able to confirm that 10 babies were part of an MRSA outbreak involving a previously unknown strain of the bug. DNA sequencing showed it was caused by a strain carried to the ward by one of 154 health workers, who had been screened for MRSA.
"The staff member was decolonised and went back to work, and we believe this brought the outbreak to a close," said Dr Julian Parkhill, head of pathogen genomics at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Hinxton, Cambridgeshire, who worked on the research.
One in 100 people carry MRSA (methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus) without any health problems, they won't even know but they can spread the superbug to those that are vulnerable, it can kill if it gets into wounds and is spread by skin contact. It is believed to be the first time DNA sequencing has been used to contain an infectious disease outbreak at a hospital.
Three members of Derek Butler's family died from MRSA, he hopes the test can make a difference, and said "We can't change what's in the past and bring our loved ones back, but if we can do all the right things and get medical science on board and use the latest technology, that's the key"
Scientists now hope to develop a machine that can tell doctors the exact species of bacteria is infecting a patient and tell precisely which antibiotics will be most effective - a science fiction kit that would take the guesswork out of medicine.
Scandal of dirty hospitals: 43,000 patients struck down by deadly superbugs on NHS wards last year
By Andrew Gregory, Steve Myall
2 Nov 2012 01:00
It's a nightmare scenario that became a chilling reality for almost 43,000 patients in the past year... catching a life-threatening superbug while in hospital. And we can reveal that in the past three years the NHS has been forced to pay out an astonishing £20million to people who contracted the infections while on a ward.
Poor hospital hygiene is to blame for the bugs being spread - and campaigners are demanding that bosses finally take action.
Although official statistics apparently show hospital chiefs are getting to grips with familiar culprits such as MRSA and Clostridium difficile, there are many more bugs getting through. Figures released this year show that the annual number of patients recorded as having picked up a hospital infection has almost doubled in the past two years - from 22,488 to a record 42,712.
And today is the first time the extent of the compensation can be revealed. Payouts to bug victims have soared to FOUR times what they were seven years ago. The findings, made through Freedom of Information requests, show that the average annual payout over the past five years is £4million.
The record was in 2010/2011 when the NHS had to fork out £10million in damages and legal costs. Each successful claimant had to be paid an average of almost £90,000 last year, which is more than double what it was in 2007/2008. Most patients struck down with the infections are elderly, meaning they have far less chance of recovering from the surgery or illness that they were being treated for.
The average age of people battling hospital bugs is 76. Roger Goss, co-director of Patient Concern, said: "As long as many hospitals contract out cleaning services to save money, and staff ignore instructions to wash their hands between touching patients, unhygienic conditions will persist and patients continue to suffer the consequences."
Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association, said the growing number of infections being caught on wards is a "real concern for patients in or going into hospital".
She added: "There has been progress in recent years on high profile infections such as MRSA and C.diff, but our recent research shows action is needed to tackle less well known infections which may not grab the headlines but nevertheless pose a real risk to patient safety.
"The NHS cannot afford to take its eye off the ball - the financial costs and most importantly the threat to patients is simply too grave.
"Preventing and controlling infections must rise up the list of priorities for the Government and hospital trusts."
Bugs are recorded by consultants as a "nosocomial condition", which is an infection picked up by a patient in a hospital or medical environment. And by law hospital trusts have to provide records of these incidents.
There have been several high profile cases of hospital bugs in recent years.
One of the victims was James Wollacott, 28, who in 2009 was awarded £400,000 in compensation after he contracted MRSA in a leg wound following an operation on his knee at St Mary's Hospital, West London. Formerly a keen sportsman, James now walks with a limp and he will probably need to have a complete knee replacement within 20 years.
He suffered psychological damage and has been unable to return to work as an electrical engineer.
Experts in medical negligence believe superbugs are costing the NHS even more than the shock figures revealed by our investigation. It is thought that the complexities of many claims mean that millions in compensation is paid out without being logged as being related to a hospital-acquired infection.
Damages in hospital bug cases are awarded for the pain and suffering the patient endures when they were struck down with the infection.
And the bill starts to soar when victims are compensated for the permanent injuries they sustain which can sometimes mean they are not able to return to work.
A Department of Health spokesman said: "MRSA and Clostridium difficile infections are at their lowest levels since mandatory reporting for each was introduced, with over 20% fewer cases of both infections in the past year.
"We have been clear that the NHS should take a zero tolerance approach to all healthcare associated infections. The vast majority of the millions of people seen by the NHS every year get good quality, safe and effective care.
"In a small minority of cases where patients have acquired an infection during their stay and have been negligently harmed, it is right that they are entitled to seek compensation."
Derek Butler, of campaign group MRSA Action UK, said the figures were "alarming" and prove that bugs are "still a huge problem in hospitals".
He added: "If more was done to eradicate them from hospitals, the NHS wouldn't have to pay out millions while also trying to cut down on costs.
"More action would also reduce the suffering and distress that patients who contract these bugs have to go through."
Daughter tells how beloved dad died after picking up MRSA in hospital
Well: Clifford Jenkyns before
A daughter told last night how her beloved father died after picking up MRSA in hospital. Clifford Jenkyns became infected while admitted for a routine operation to fit a lung drain to ease his cancer symptoms. But he never recovered from the superbug and died in November last year, aged 73.
Andrea Jenkyns, 38, has now released a shocking photo of him four days before his death. She said: "My dad was a fit guy. But the picture shows what MRSA reduced him to.
"He weighed less than seven stone and didn't look the same person."
The mature student, of Boston, Lincs, said her dad was put in isolation after contracting the bug, but staff would come in and out without washing their hands or wearing gloves.
Suffering: Clifford four days before his death
She added: "I was shocked, but when I mentioned this to the head nurse, I was just stared at blankly.
"Another time a nurse walked into my dad's room with two bowls of soup.
"She delivered his and then walked out, headed down the corridor and handed the second bowl to a patient who wasn't infected.
"The standards of hygiene were appalling."
Andrea has become a trustee of charity MRSA Action UK in Clifford's memory. She would not name the hospital as she may take legal action.
Unison's head of health Christina McAnea blames cuts for superbugs
THE huge amount of compensation paid to patients infected in hospitals is partly due to this Government's cuts.
Ministers talk about protecting frontline staff - a hollow claim when 6,500 nurses have lost their jobs since they came to power.
Cleaners are on the front-line of infection control, but their numbers are dropping, they get little or no training, and pay is the minimum wage.
Hospitals ignore this part of the ward team at their peril, as the near £20million paid out in damages shows.
This money represents a lot of unnecessary suffering.
Ministers may wash their hands as they visit wards, but they are washing their hands of basic infection control.
BBC Radio West Midlands
Marmite's Vitamin B3 and MRSA breakthrough
27th August 2012
Jimmy Franks, BBC West Midlands presenter, interviewed Derek Butler about the breakthrough in research on fighting infections such as MRSA. Vitamin B3 has been shown to have some benefits for patients who were taking high doses of niacin, a form of vitamin B3, which is found in many foods including yeast, meat, fish, milk, eggs, green vegetables, beans, and cereal grains. The headlines picked up by the media referred to the benefits of Marmite, which is high in vitamin B3, although the quantities would not be significant enough to impact MRSA compared to the high doses of niacin referred to in the research.
In tests, the immune system's ability to kill different strains of the bugs, including MRSA, was increased up to 1,000 times. The researchers used high doses of niacin far beyond what any normal diet would provide, but similar to those previously given to patients undergoing treatment. Scientists warned people not to start taking high doses of niacin without medical supervision.
Derek focused on the need to look at alternatives to antibiotics, this being one. Increasing vitamin B whilst taking antibiotics is something that was used in general practice some time ago, when he remembers family member had experienced this back in the 1970s. Prevention is always better than cure and the discussion on the over reliance on antibiotics led to the need for more information being made available for the public on the importance of their appropriate use, and of course the importance of hand hygiene. Jimmy Franks shared the view that more could be done to help make more of handwashing by the design of toilets and washrooms. Those who wash their hands are often faced with having to open a door that those who didn't wash have touched, having the consequence of passing on bacteria that can be harmful to others hands.
Click to play the radio interview
Drug Companies Unite In Battle Against Bugs
8:04am UK, Thursday May 24, 2012
Thomas Moore, health and science correspondent
Britain's two biggest drug companies have set aside their normally fierce rivalry to speed up the hunt for more powerful antibiotics. GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and AstraZeneca are to share information in an unprecedented alliance.
Rather than duplicating each other's efforts in secret, they hope to learn swiftly what works against the bugs - and what doesn't.
Patrick Vallance, head of GSK's research and development, told Sky News: "Because of the nature of antibiotic research and the difficulties in doing this, we want to share.
"We want to get the information out so we all benefit from it."
The two companies will collaborate with three other pharmaceutical companies, as well as scientists in the public sector.
The European Commission is expected to announce £180m in funding to kick-start the work.
All but a handful of pharmaceutical companies have abandoned antibiotic research because it has proved hard to find the Achilles' heel of bugs such as MRSA.
Profits are also low because new antibiotics are rationed to reduce the risk of bacteria becoming resistant.
"Bugs are good at getting round things thrown at them," said Mr Vallance.
At least 14 different species of bacteria are now showing resistance to antibiotics.
Across Europe, superbugs kill 25,000 people each year and the World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned of "a doomsday scenario of a world without antibiotics".
Donald Owen died from MRSA after a routine knee operation. Even removing his joint and giving him high-strength antibiotics failed to slow the bug's spread.
His son Steve said: "There was nothing that could touch the infection. Then there were other complications and he died of multi-organ failure.
"Bugs have developed and got smarter. We need new antibiotics."
Cameras to monitor hospital staff
Employees concerned as NHS trusts opt to trial US surveillance technology in a bid to cut superbug infections
Denis Campbell, health correspondent
guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 8 May 2012 17.00 BST
The NHS is set to start using cameras in hospital wards to monitor staff behaviour in a bid to reduce hospital-acquired infections, drive up the quality of care and improve patient safety.
Two hospital trusts have agreed to introduce the technology, which has triggered concern among staff about being constantly watched as they work, and raised issues about how to protect patients' confidentiality.
The Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen university hospitals NHS trust will become the first NHS organisation to install cameras in a move that could change healthcare workers' relationships with patients and with their employers.
The trust has struck a deal with US technology firm Arrowsight, and ADT Security Services, to put 30 cameras into the intensive care unit, kidney dialysis department and an operating theatre of the city's Royal Liverpool university hospital.
The trust's management admits that the move, expected to be implemented in the autumn, has prompted "apprehension and suspicion" among affected staff. But it is expecting the cameras to lead to better care for some more vulnerable patients, fewer cases of MRSA and Clostridium difficile (C difficile), and a reduced risk of surgical staff making a blunder when performing a procedure. Managers believe that patients and their families will welcome the presence of a watchful eye and staff will be motivated to always follow the best clinical procedures.
The trust will undertake a three-month free-of-charge pilot before deciding whether to make this surveillance of working practices permanent. Its first-year cost would be close on £200,000 for the cameras and monitoring services if it leased the 30 cameras. If it did not put them in the operating theatre the first year cost would fall to around £37,000.
The scheme could turn out to be a trailblazer for the NHS. Central Manchester university hospitals NHS foundation trust is also planning to test the technology in a large ward at Manchester Royal infirmary. Other trusts have had discussions with Arrowsight and ADT, and a third pilot, in London, is expected to be confirmed soon.
Cameras in the four-bed post-operative care unit of Royal Liverpool hospital's intensive care unit will check if staff are washing their hands before they dress wounds, give medication, and insert or remove intravenous lines from patients. Diane Wake, the trust's chief operating officer and executive nurse, says: "The cameras will also monitor how often staff move patients in bed who are usually immobile and may sometimes be on a ventilator, and whether they used the right techniques. That's to reduce the risk of the patient getting either pressure ulcers or an infection, especially ventilator-acquired pneumonia."
Signs will alert patients and their families to the cameras' presence, and no one's care will be monitored without their written consent. "This will give patients and visitors extra reassurance that we really take care and safety very seriously," says Wake.
"We're also going to use this technology in our renal dialysis unit to monitor whether staff have washed their hands and used the correct procedures for attaching the dialysis machine to the patient, to avoid giving the patient a bloodstream infection. The nurse should clean the patient's skin before inserting the needle," she adds.
While the trust has cut its rates of MRSA by 90% and C difficile by 89% over the last three years, it hopes that the cameras will bring further improvements.
Cameras will also be placed in an operating theatre to ensure the surgical team goes through the standard checklist before it starts - a process the World Health Organisation recommends is undertaken before every operation.
Sue Redfern, the trust's deputy director of nursing, says: "This technology will be 24/7. It's a way of observing clinical practice. It will tell us if staff are following every step of patient care in a 'care bundle' and give us additional intelligence about where we need to make improvements in care delivery, for example if handwashing compliance is 100% one day but 80% the next.
"We know that if you follow every step in the 'care bundle' you will get the best outcome for the patient and enhance the patient's safety and the patient will come to no harm. But if you start to cut corners or miss a step that's in the care bundle, evidence shows that patients are likely to come to harm."
Arrowsight produces the technology, which is known as "remote video auditing". It has been used for years in the US by the beef industry to monitor workers' hygiene practices, by fast-food restaurants to move staff to where they are most needed during busy times, and for security purposes.
In the healthcare setting, cameras transmit pictures of activity around sinks, hand gel dispensers and patients' beds to Arrowsight call centres overseas, which then send regular updates to units or wards about how many staff have washed their hands, for example.
At North Shore university hospital in New York State, where cameras have been operating since 2008, monitors by the doors to its intensive care unit observe when someone goes in or out. They then have 10 seconds to wash their hands. LED screens on the wall flash up messages such as: "Sanitise hands upon entry/exit of rooms!" and "Target rate = 95%". "Great shift" is posted to the electronic boards if the ward has greater than a 90% hand hygiene rate. Managers receive email updates too.
After initial apprehension about being under such surveillance, staff at the two hospitals in the US that use the cameras have become motivated by their presence and informal competition has emerged between shifts and wards, says Arrowsight's chief executive, Adam Aronson.
The Liverpool hospital aims to take a similar approach. "We're not going to manage this in a punitive way," says Wake. "It'll concentrate on positive reinforcement of good behaviour. We want staff to just forget about the cameras and do what they would normally do."
Staff in the US who were observed regularly not doing the right thing have had one-on-one coaching sessions.
A recent study of remote video auditing, in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, concluded that combined with real-time feedback of healthcare worker hand hygiene rates [it] produced a "significant and sustained improvement in hand hygiene compliance, and has the potential to improve the quality of patient care".
It could also ensure compliance with proper techniques in resuscitation, rapid responses, placing central line catheters and nursing care, added the study.
Other research, in the British Medical Journal last week, said the NHS-wide Clean Your Hands campaign had helped to improve staff's use of soap and hand gel.
Healthcare associated infections are falling, but some 14,000 patients still contract MRSA or C difficile in England and Wales every year, according to the Health Protection Agency, and they cost the NHS an estimated £1bn.
Derek Butler, chair of patient safety group MRSA Action UK, says inconsistent levels of handwashing by NHS staff makes cameras a must. "We can no longer afford to use 19th-century methods against resistant bacteria. Bacteria have evolved, and so should we in using modern methods to keep patients safe. We are aware there may be concerns regarding this system. But, in our opinion, the safety of patients should override those concerns."
The Royal College of Nursing tentatively welcomes the pilots. Peter Carter, its chief executive and general secretary says: "While there is no silver bullet for reducing infections in hospitals, we recognise the potential of the new technology to create safe patient environments. We would like to see a careful evaluation of how they work in practice to determine their suitability in hospitals. We look forward to seeing both the results of the pilot projects and the evaluation from staff and patients alike."
(c) 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.
MRSA charity work in memory of father
Published on Friday 13 April 2012 07:59
A BOSTON councillor whose father died from MRSA has turned her grief to action by getting involved in a charity supporting the cause.
Andrea Jenkyns, county councillor for Boston North West, said her life changed forever when her dear dad Clifford contracted the infection and died just four months later.
But now she has decided to use her sadness to try to help others after becoming a trustee and East Midlands representative for the charity MRSA Action in her dad's memory.
She told The Standard: "I'd not been exposed to it before, but when we found out my dad had caught it I tried to find some information.
"When he was ill we had time to talk about it. He said when he got better he wanted us to set up a charity together to inform people about MRSA, but there was one already."
Clifford, who was 73 when he died, went into hospital last July for an operation to insert a lung drain which would ease symptoms of the mesothilioma cancer he was suffering from. But he was never to recover from the operation, after he contracted the superbug and died four months later.
Andrea (pictured with her dad) said: "It was a huge shock for us all, but the standards in the hospital were just appalling." MRSA can be contracted though the blood, eyes, wounds and catheter sites, among others. She would not say which hospital her father was treated at, but confirmed it was not Pilgrim Hospital or any other Lincolnshire facility.
Andrea said she believed that one of the most important things she learned during her experience with her dad was how vital it is to raise awareness about MRSA to ensure that healthcare staff and hospital visitors do all they can to fight the infection. She added: "Awareness is the biggest thing, and we want to make it so all cases of MRSA are recorded. Patients deserve to know." MRSA Action UK was set up around eight years ago and is made up entirely of volunteers. Andrea, who is also a singer, said she was planning some fundraising activities to raise money and awareness for the cause.
Anyone who is concerned about MRSA, whether they are suffering, know somebody who is, or they are heading into hospital can contact her.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
My dad caught MRSA from a routine procedure, says Boston councillor
Saturday, April 07, 2012
A BOSTON councillor is hoping to use a personal tragedy to help other people after being selected as a trustee for a national charity. Andrea Jenkyns, who represents Boston North West on Lincolnshire County Council, has been elected as a trustee of MRSA Action UK and will also become East Midlands representative for the charity. Here she tells Target readers how the death of her father prompted her to get involved with the charity and what she hopes to achieve through her new role...
Councillor Andrea Jenkyns has been elected as a trustee of MRSA Action UK
ON November 15, my life changed forever as a result of MRSA. My wonderful dad Clifford Jenkyns passed away on that sad day. In July, he went into hospital for a routine procedure to insert a lung drain. This is where he caught MRSA. My dad bravely fought against this terrible infection for more than four months.
He went from being a vibrant, full of life and healthy person, who always helped other people, to being weak, frail and weighing less than seven stone.
Then on that November night we lost him. He died in the arms of my wonderful mum. MRSA not only affects patients but also leaves a lasting scar on the hearts and lives of those who are left behind.
This is the reason that I became a trustee of MRSA Action UK. I want to support those who have gone through what my family and I have gone through, and I want to do all I can to spread the word, and prevent it from happening to other people.
MRSA Action UK was founded by a group of people who all had life-changing experiences or lost a loved one through contracting MRSA.
We came together through our involvement in supporting each other and have broadened our membership by supporting others through our work with healthcare providers and the agencies that support the health economy.
We have formed alliances with other organisations from around the UK to join in our campaign for safer standards in our hospitals and healthcare settings.
We are all volunteers and share a common purpose - to relieve the distress and suffering experienced by patients who contract healthcare associated infections.
We aim to raise the awareness of the general public in all areas relating to healthcare-associated infections. MRSA Action UK works alongside other patient groups and charities, regulators, infection prevention and control staff and Government agencies to help bring improvements and safer standards to the healthcare system.
I am pleased to announce that in addition to becoming a trustee of MRSA Action UK, I have also taken on the role as the regional representative for the East Midlands.
If you require any help or support then please do not hesitate to contact me. MRSA Action UK has a wealth of knowledge available to support you, including a guide for those who are going into hospital.
If you are also interested in becoming a member or supporting the charity then please do let me know. Log onto www.mrsaactionuk.net or email email@example.com
Global Health Alert Over Antibiotics Misuse
5:48am UK, Saturday March 17, 2012
Katie Stallard, health correspondent
Antibiotics will soon become so ineffective that a sore throat or grazed knee could kill, according to a warning from the World Health Organisation.
The world is approaching a post-antibiotic era, which could bring about "the end of modern medicine as we know it", according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). Dr Margaret Chan, director general of the World Health Organisation, is warning humans are developing such resistance to the drugs that common complaints like a sore throat or grazed knee could become potentially fatal.
She said routine operations might become too dangerous, with every antibiotic ever developed "at risk of becoming useless".
The threat was "global, extremely serious, and growing", Dr Chan said. "A post-antibiotic era means, in effect, an end to modern medicine as we know it," she told a conference of infectious disease experts in Copenhagen.
"Things as common as strep throat or a child's scratched knee could once again kill. "Some sophisticated interventions, like hip replacements, organ transplants, cancer chemotherapy, and care of pre-term infants, would become far more difficult or even too dangerous to undertake.
"At a time of multiple calamities in the world, we cannot allow the loss of essential antimicrobials, essential cures for many millions of people, to become the next global crisis."
Replacement treatments, she cautioned, would be more costly, more toxic and might require treatment in intensive care units.
Life-saving drugs to treat tuberculosis, malaria and HIV/Aids could also be affected.Dr Chan said: "Among the world's 12 million cases of tuberculosis in 2010, WHO estimates that 650,000 involved multidrug-resistant TB strains.
"Treatment of MDR-TB is extremely complicated, typically requiring two years of medication with toxic and expensive medicines, some of which are in constant short supply. "Even with the best of care, only slightly more than 50% of these patients will be cured."
She criticised the "gross misuse" of antibiotics both in humans and livestock.
She said doctors prescribing the drugs too frequently and for too long, and the greater quantities of antibiotics used in healthy animals worldwide than in unhealthy humans, was a cause for great concern.
The pipeline, in terms of developing new antibiotics, is "virtually dry", Dr Chan warned. "The cupboard is nearly bare. Prospects for turning this situation around look dim." But, despite the global warnings, demand for antibiotics from patients has not diminished. A north London GP, Dr David Lloyd, told Sky News: "A lot of our patients, because of the pressures they are under in their everyday lives, feel that they need everything they can to get better as quickly as possible.
"Their employers are yelling at them to come back to work, they're feeling terrible. They want to get better as quickly as they can, and so, naturally, they think that antibiotics are going to help them get better.
"But we know that most minor infections are what we call "self-limiting" and don't get better with antibiotics."
It's a world Susan Fallon has something of an insight into watching her 17 year old daughter, a fit and healthy A level student die within days when she contracted MRSA after being admitted to hospital with a virus.
"She started fitting on the Monday, they took her to intensive care and she died on the Friday afternoon". To see the report visit http://news.sky.com/home/uk-news/article/16190199
MRSA Action UK has been certified as a provider of safe, reliable, high quality health and social care information
19th January 2012
MRSA Action UK has been certified as a provider of high quality health and social care information by The Information Standard scheme. MRSA Action UK met the scheme criteria of producing safe and reliable health and social care information. The organisation has consequently been awarded The Information Standard quality mark, which it can display on its literature and website illustrating to the public that its information can be trusted. More....