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News / June 9, 2009

Government targets fail superbug battle

by Guy Hiscott

The war on healthcare associated infections (HCAIs), or so-called ‘superbugs’, will never be won unless long-term strategies are introduced to radically reduce their prevalence, says a BMA report launched today (Tuesday 9 June 2009). 

Dr Steve Austin, Chairman of the BMA’s Northern Ireland Consultants’ Committee and based in the Mater Hospital, said: ‘Whilst we must congratulate healthcare staff on their successful efforts to reduce HCAIs, it is time to introduce longer-term solutions that are integrated and evidence-based.’

He added: ‘Hygiene, hand-washing and antibiotic policies have extremely important roles to play, but if we want to reduce the spread of infections we must put safety in front of political targets. We want safe, timely care and treatment, not just fast care.’

Newry-based consultant and member of the BMA’s Board of Science, Dr Peter Maguire, commented that: ‘With an ageing population and advances in medical technology and treatments, more patients are being treated than ever before and many are increasingly vulnerable to infection. Infection control is the responsibility of all, from the highest level of hospital organisation and management, to healthcare professionals, patients and visitors.’

Tackling healthcare associated infections through effective policy action, a report produced by the BMA’s Board of Science, calls for a range of measures to minimise the spread of infection and strong governmental commitment focusing on long-term policies. 

Short-term solutions such as using alcohol gel, adhering to a dress code and deep cleansing of facilities must be supplemented with sustainable evidence-based improvements that will protect more patients in the future, says the report.

It adds that without a change in direction, the risk to patients caused by HCAIs and the burden on the health service are set to continue.