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Sue Fallon Brings The Human Cost To The Attention Of Government Over The Ticking Time Bomb And Lack Of Desperately Needed Antibiotics

Thursday 10th November 2011

MRSA Action UK Vice Chair Sue Fallon, helped to raise the plight faced by the NHS and health providers around the world, by telling her harrowing story to BBC reporter Jenny Hill yesterday. Tearful Sue told Jenny “The hardest thing is to have to tell your 12 year old daughter that her sister is dying.”

As Sue clutched the photo of Sammie aged just 17, she showed just how important it is to address the antibiotic crisis. Sammie died from MRSA aged 17 when she had a bone marrow sample taken from her hip. Poor infection control practice was probably to blame, as the resistant superbug MRSA took control of Sammie’s body. MRSA is just one of many resistant superbugs that we are facing and new antibiotics are needed to stop infections overwhelming patients like Sammie in the future.

Experts are warning that the NHS faces a “ticking time bomb”.

Professor Laura Piddock, president of the British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, said health services faced a “near depletion” of effective antibiotics.

The NHS faces a ticking time bomb over the lack of modern antibiotics due to increasing resistance to infections, and must take immediate action to prevent an unprecedented crisis. The situation is so grave that experts believe urgent action is needed to accelerate the approved licensing process for new antibiotics, adopting similar regulatory procedures that produced antiviral therapies for the treatment of HIV/AIDS more speedily. Professor Laura Piddock, President of the British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy (BSAC), warned that that the near depletion of effective antibiotics will have a devastating impact on global health, and that we need to identify new ways of public/private partnership for their discovery, research and development. Earlier this month in a press release she said:

“The magnitude of the crisis we face becomes apparent when we note that 16 new antibacterial agents were approved and brought to market between 1983-1987, compared with less than four agents between 2008-12.

“The dearth of new antibiotics reaching the marketplace today potentially threatens not only the management of ‘superbugs’, such as NDM 1 producing E. coli and multi-drug resistant gonorrhea, but also the success of many routine treatments and procedures, from life-saving transplants and cancer chemotherapy, to joint replacements and therapies for cystic fibrosis sufferers. I fear there could be a return to a pre-antibiotic era where many people suffer or die from untreatable bacterial infections.”

MRSA - the resistant superbug that killed Sammie

A petition to 10 Downing Street, signed by researchers, scientists and clinicians working in the NHS, as well as the public, calls upon the government to:

Identify opportunities to safely streamline and accelerate the licensing processes for new antibiotic agents

Address and incentivise the commercial challenges faced by industry in developing and bringing new antibiotics to the marketplace.

Encourage greater partnership working between pharmaceutical and diagnostics companies as well as academia in the UK to maximise the conversion of new discoveries into licensed antibiotics available for use on the NHS.

Establish an All-Party Parliamentary Group on Antimicrobial Discovery, Research and Development.

We have created an antibiotic paradox where our modern healthcare system and medicine is at risk for future generations. We need to take the initiative and remember that in the battle against resistant bacteria, it’s not the strongest or fittest that survive, but those that are the most responsive to change.

Watch the report here (BBC News)

Listen to the BBC report here (audio file)


Trafford hospital is beating MRSA using copper

John Howard Crews died aged 54, one of the thousands of victims of the superbug MRSA

On Saturday 1st October BBC reporter Ben Ando met Derek Butler at Christchurch, Wesham to talk about the loss of his stepfather John Howard Crews to MRSA. The BBC News story covered the innovations being used to tackle hospital acquired infections such as MRSA in Trafford Hospital, and spoke of the measures that are being used to reduce the risks of getting an infection more.......


Published on Wednesday 20 July 2011 13:01

Maria Cann, Secretary of MRSA Action UK (left) and Edwina Currie, Patron of MRSA Action UK (right) present Derek with his International Man of the Year Award at Springfields

THE dedicated charitable efforts of a Springfields employee have received global recognition.

Derek Butler, who works in the engineering workshops at the Westinghouse nuclear fuel manufacturing facility at Springfields, and who lives in Kirkham, has been named International Man of the Year for his involvement in the charity MRSA Action UK - the only charity in the UK representing victims and dependents of healthcare infections.

Derek helped establish the charity following the death of his step-father due to MRSA and in 2007 was appointed as chairman.

He said: “The charity aims to raise public awareness of healthcare infections, campaigns for safety standards and supports victims and dependants.”

The charity has evolved to become far more pro-active in its approach to lobbying politicians and drug companies to highlight the issues associated with MRSA, which has included Derek visiting 10 Downing Street to talk to policy advisers. In addition to attending quarterly trustee meetings, meeting with government ministers and health officials and attending conferences, Derek finds a lot of his spare time is spent dealing with phone queries for information and assistance.

“During my role as chairman I have been able to introduce the partnership approach applied at Springfields Fuels to many of the dealings of the charity,” said Derek.

“I’m very grateful to the company, without whose support I would not have had the time to be able to carry out my responsibilities to the charity.”

The award was presented late last year at the World MRSA Day in Chicago by the MRSA Survivors Network - a US-based charity associated with raising awareness and providing support and education of MRSA.

In recognition of his award the charity’s UK patron, ex-MP Edwina Currie, visited Springfields to thank Derek for his dedication and commitment and to formally present the award.

She said: “Derek has made an enormous difference to the MRSA Action UK charity and to the lives of everyone involved with it. He is a tireless campaigner and he brought me in as the charity’s patron at the time the infection figures in hospitals was rising dramatically and much of the improvements since have been due to his relentless campaigning.

“However, none of us will be satisfied until every hospital, doctor’s surgery and care home is much safer than it is now.”


Edwina Currie says doctors are ‘too posh to wash hands’

Doctors are “too posh” to wash their hands in hospitals, leaving patients at risk of contracting superbugs, according to Edwina Currie.

Edwina Currie has said that trusts should spend money on extra staff to tackle problems of cleanliness, rather than facing fines Photo: PA

By Martin Beckford, Health Correspondent 7:00AM BST 27 May 2011

The former Tory health minister, who is now patron of the charity MRSA Action UK, said she had also seen medical staff wearing outdoor clothes and long sleeves on wards, increasing the risk of infections.

She also said that trusts should spend money on extra staff to tackle problems of cleanliness, rather than facing fines.

Mrs Currie, who caused a scandal in Government when she warned of the dangers of salmonella in British eggs, said: “I’ve come across many instances of bad practice which at the least are folly, at worst criminally negligent.

“Sharps being stuck into mattresses “so we can find them” Commodes rusting and smelly. Floors with stains, pools of congealed blood by toilets, waste bags left in corridors. Intravenous lines being reused repeatedly with inadequate sterilisation.

“Doctors “too posh to wash” their hands, or wearing scruffy outdoor apparel with long sleeves. No wonder it’s so hard to eradicate MRSA and other superbugs.”

In an article for the website GovToday, she concluded: “Part of the problem, in my opinion, is that we forget we are dealing with human beings.

“If staff thought that patient in the bed was their mother, or their daughter, they might not rush past, and they might hesitate before ‘forgetting’ to wash their hands.”


Superbugs: The continuing problem

Editors Feature

Edwina Currie, Patron for MRSA Action discusses the ongoing campaign to reduce infection rates across hospitals and explains the importance of good hygiene

“The Leeds NHS Trust is facing a potential fine of 400,000 pounds because there have been too many instance of MRSA in its hospitals.

Every time the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust goes over the agreed monthly target of MRSA cases it faces a fine of 100,000 pounds and it has breached targets four times over the past 10 months. The fine will be reimbursed if the trust meets the annual figure of 19 cases, however with two months to go before the end of the financial year there have already been 19 cases so one more will tip the trust over the edge.

The trust has made dealing with MRSA one of its priorities as in recent years it has consistently missed national targets both on MRSA and Clostridium difficile. It has now begun MRSA screening for all acute patients and each case of the infection is closely analysed to assess how it occurred. Despite this Leeds still had the highest rate of MRSA infection compared to five other similar sized hospital trusts.” Yorkshire Post 16 March 2011

The campaign waged against hospital superbugs demonstrates the power of action by ordinary people affected by a disaster. Leeds NHS Trust faced headlines earlier this year for reaching its maximum target of no more than 19 cases of MRSA in the year ending March 31st, having hit the 19 with two months still to go. With fines of possibly 400,000 pounds or more in the offing, hospital officials did what they should have done years before: ordered MRSA screening for all acute patients, and a case review of every single case to see exactly how it occurred.

They will have found what their patients would regard as the “bleedin’ obvious”: lack of hygiene, lack of attention to detail, lack of commitment by some staff to the rigorous standards needed to care successfully for thousands of sick people at close quarters in a busy hospital.

As Patron of the charity MRSA Action UK, I’ve come across many instances of bad practice which at the least are folly, at worst criminally negligent. Sharps being stuck into mattresses “so we can find them.” Commodes rusting and smelly. Floors with stains, pools of congealed blood by toilets, waste bags left in corridors. Intravenous lines being reused repeatedly with inadequate sterilisation. Doctors “too posh to wash” their hands, or wearing scruffy outdoor apparel with long sleeves. No wonder it’s so hard to eradicate MRSA and other superbugs.

When it comes to C diff, we’re often talking about out-dated medical practice including inappropriate broad-spectrum antibiotic use, wiping out all the gut flora so that C diff can then proliferate. Poor hygiene then spreads it around. Both C diff and MRSA are becoming endemic in many nursing homes too, where training standards are much lower than in acute hospitals - in Leeds recently almost a quarter of residents of nursing homes tested positive for MRSA.

To be fair to Leeds, the number of cases of MRSA in the Trust used to run at around 200 a year, so getting down to 19 must have taken genuine effort. But reported figures are only a tiny part of the problem, for only bloodstream infections are covered; wound-site infections and other conditions aren’t counted, though they are caused in much the same way, and can result in long debilitating stays in hospital and permanent damage.

I’ve toured hospitals where the official policies are pristine, only to find that at ward level nobody knows about them. In the Royal Free, for example, officials told me everyone used hand gel as they entered a ward, only for me to point out that, standing at the entrance to a ward, I’d just counted seven staff enter without doing so. Their excellent rules stated that cannulas (a known site of infection) should only be inserted if necessary and removed once no longer required; when I asked several patients with cannulas taped to hands or wrists when these were last used, the answer was, “a couple of days ago.”

Part of the problem, in my opinion, is that we forget we are dealing with human beings. If staff thought that patient in the bed was their mother, or their daughter, they might not rush past, and they might hesitate before “forgetting” to wash their hands. When I speak on behalf of the charity, I put human stories to the statistics, and never fail to produce gasps of horror from some of those listening.

And did Leeds have to fork out £400,000? The latest figures (available on the MRSA Action UK website) suggest that the Trust as a whole ended up with 31 cases in the year ending March 31 2011. Pressure from watchdogs does not appear to have had the desired effect - yet. Personally I’d prefer that huge sum to be spent on extra staff, not on a fine. Good hygiene is not a matter of money, but of understanding and commitment, and both still seem to be in short supply.

Written by Edwina Currie

Tuesday, 24 May 2011 16:51

Copyright (c) 2011 Govtoday


Special report: When the drugs don’t work

Thu Mar 31, 2011 7:29am

Kate Kelland and Ben Hirschler

LONDON (Reuters) - David Livermore is in a race against evolution. In his north London lab, he holds up an evil-smelling culture plate smeared with bacteria. This creamy-yellow growth is the enemy: a new strain of germs resistant to the most powerful antibiotics yet devised by humankind.

Suzanne Plunkett / REUTERS

David Livermore, director of the Antibiotic Resistance Monitoring & Reference Laboratory at the Health Protection Agency, holds a plate which was coated with the antibiotic-resistant bacteria called Klebsiella with a mutation called NDM 1 and then exposed to various antibiotics, in his laboratory in north London

Out on the streets, Steve Owen is running the same race - physically pounding the pavements to draw attention to the problem of drug-resistant infections.

Owen’s father Donald died four years ago of multiple organ failure in a British hospital. He had checked in for a knee operation. But what he got was methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, commonly known as MRSA, a so-called “superbug” that all the drugs his doctors prescribed couldn’t beat. After almost 18 months of severe pain, the infection got into his blood, overpowered his vital organs and killed him. More....


NHS on alert as wave of super-resistant bugs hits hospitals

By Jenny Hope

Last updated at 1:10 AM on 29th January 2011

The Health Service was put on red alert yesterday after nearly 400 cases of infection by deadly superbugs were identified in hospitals.

At least five deaths have been linked to the strains of bacteria that are resistant to even the most powerful antibiotics.

Some of the infected patients were health tourists who imported the bacteria after surgery in India and Pakistan.

The Health Protection Agency today issued new guidance to infection control specialists and microbiologists about tackling infections resistant to carbapenem antibiotics - widely regarded as all but the last line of defence against bacteria already resistant to standard drugs.

Latest figures from the HPA show 383 cases of infections caused by resistant strains of the bacteria Klebsiella and E.Coli between 2003 and the end of 2010.

These cases include hospital pneumonias, urinary infections or blood poisoning.

They include 80 cases of NDM-1, which is short for New Delhi metallo-beta-

lactamose, after the place where it was identified, of which 43 cases were reported last year.

There were claims last year that five patients had died in NHS hospitals while infected with NDM-1 following a study in The Lancet reporting that 50 Britons were infected. It is one of a number of bugs that destroy carbapenem antibiotics which have been found in the UK.

Laboratory tests for the bugs are outlined in the latest guidance, along with remaining drugs that may still work.

Dr David Livermore, director of the HPA’s antibiotic resistance monitoring and reference laboratory, said: “It is critical, always, to understand how much of modern medicine - from gut surgery to transplants - depends on the ability to treat infection. If that ability is lost, through resistance, then medicine will take a great step backwards.

“The emergence of carbapenem resistance is a major public health concern and we hope this new guidance will help infection control specialists across this UK to better recognise, treat and prevent infections caused by bacteria with these resistances.

“NDM and the other enzymes that cause carbapenem resistance can be produced by many different types of bacteria, which can affect various body sites.

“The severity of the infections caused by bacteria with resistance to carbapenems varies. It depends on several factors including a patient’s general health, and the site of the infection.

“The spread of antibiotic resistance underscores the need for good infection control in hospitals both in the UK and overseas, and highlights the need for new antibiotics to be developed.”

NDM-1 is an enzyme that alters bacteria, making them resistant to nearly all antibiotics, and has largely been found only in E.coli bacteria so far.

However, experts are alarmed by its potential ability to transfer into superbugs already among us, such as MRSA and C.diff, which would make the resulting infection more dangerous.

Derek Butler, chairman of the pressure group MRSA Action, which raises awareness of all hospital infections, said health chiefs must extend the monitoring and recording of all bacteria and extend screening into the community, especially care homes.

The decision to eventually axe the HPA as part of the bonfire of the quangos was a “clear mistake”, he said.

Advice was issued by the HPA last year to healthcare professionals on the need to be “extra vigilant” when dealing with infections caused by carbapenem resistant bugs among patients who have travelled to or been hospitalised overseas, particularly the Indian sub-continent.

Read more:


Warning Over Deadly New Generation Of Superbugs


Wednesday January 26,2011

By Judith Duffy

SCOTLAND has been placed on alert over the emergence of deadly new superbugs which are resistant to even the most powerful of antibiotics.

Health officials have warned of the growing menace of bacteria which are able to destroy “last resort” drugs used when all other treatments have failed.

Among the cases found north of the Border are a deadly superbug imported from the Indian sub-continent, which produces an enzyme known as NDM-1.

It is thought to have been first brought into the UK by patients having cosmetic surgery abroad.

During 2009 a total of 10 cases of bacteria which were resistant to powerful carbapenem antibiotics were identified by Scottish laboratories, according to a new report.

Dr Anne Eastaway, consultant microbiologist at Health Protection Scotland, said although they were rare it was vital to prevent them from becoming established.

She said: “Within the 10 that were reported there were two within the KPC group. That is a type of resistance which has caused problems in a number of countries around the world, because bacteria that carry it seem to be able to spread, particularly within hospitals.

“The other one is the NDM-1 from the Far East and our concern about that it is a gene that can jump between the species, so we do not want to let that one get established.

“If it does become established in the Scottish population it will be very difficult to control it.”

The NHS Report on Antimicrobial Use and Resistance in Humans found around one in six cases of E-coli can now be classed as being resistant to at least three different antibiotics.

A small number were found to have the ability to resist up to eight different kinds of antibiotics.

E-coli is the commonest cause of lethal bloodstream infection, especially in old or sick people.

The figures showed cases of such infections increased by more than a third in 2009.

There were 4,427 reported blood infections caused by E-coli and other less well known bacteria such as K pneumoniae and P aeruginosa, up from 3,207 in 2008.

Meanwhile the NHS achieved a 1.6 per cent drop in prescriptions of antibiotics in 2009.

It is aiming to reduce inappropriate use of the drugs, which has been linked to the development of resistant strains of infections.

Infections expert Professor Hugh Pennington, of Aberdeen University, warned of the need for vigilance.

He said: “We have got to have good systems for checking what is happening and respond by having very good infection control in hospital.

“We also have to make sure we are only using antibiotics when they are absolutely necessary.

“We have learnt by experience that these bugs are very clever and if we let our guard down for a minute they take advantage of it.”

Read more:


School toilet guidance in Wales ‘doesn’t go far enough’

24 January 2011 Last updated at 06:49

Guidance on school toilets in Wales does not do enough to cut the risk of dangerous bugs spreading, a watchdog claims

Consumer Focus Wales said councils should audit whether toilets are adequate and whether children can wash their hands. It said draft guidance from the Welsh Assembly Government did not meet the recommendations of a report into the 2005 south Wales E. coli outbreak.

The assembly government said it was consulting on how to improve standards. Consumer Focus said the draft guidance did not go far enough to reduce the risk of pupils spreading bugs such as E. coli O157 and salmonella.

It backed a recommendation from Professor Hugh Pennington, who led the public inquiry into the 2005 outbreak. E. coli O157 from contaminated meat made more than 150 people ill and killed five-year-old Mason Jones from Deri, near Bargoed.

Prof Pennington said local authorities should have a programme of audits to make sure all schools have adequate toilets and hand washing facilities. The recommendation was intended to minimise the chances of illness spreading from person to person if there was another outbreak.

Consumer Focus Wales senior policy advocate Jennie Bibbings said standards of hygiene should not suffer as a result of public spending cuts.

Source: BBC News

(c) MRSA Action UK February 2012


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