§ Sir Richard Body
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many hospitals have been affected by the bacteria Methicillin-resistant staphylocollus aureus (MRSA); and whether he will make a statement about its control.
§ Mrs. Currie
Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) has spread widely throughout hospitals in London and to a lesser extent elsewhere. In 1986, MRSA was reported by 170 hospitals participating in a national survey.
High standards of hygiene for both patients and staff are important for control. All staff and patients moving between hospitals known to have a current outbreak of MRSA should be checked to see if they are carriers. 231W Patients who succumb to MRSA infections are isolated. Thorough cleaning of infected wards is an important preventive measure. Infection control nurses have an increasingly vital role to play in the maintenance of hygiene standards and avoidance of cross infection through effective liaison with all levels of hospital staff, including the organisation of training programmes for health care workers.
A national survey of MRSA is in continual progress. This survey, conducted jointly by the division of hospital infection of the public health laboratory service and the communicable disease surveillance centre, makes its results available to microbiologists allowing them to know whether patients and staff transferred to their hospitals come from areas where MRSA is prevalent.
Guidance on the control of multi-resistant staphylococcus aureus is available. The joint public health laboratory service/DHSS hospital infection working group has produced draft guidance on hospital infection in general. This document is presently out for consultation.