NHS Tayside C difficile rate "stable"

26 August 2009

Marlyn Glen has been informed by NHS Tayside that although the latest figures for C difficile infection in Tayside results are " pleasing", that the 3 month period they cover " is not a long enough period for us to be confident that any improvement is sustained ."

Ms. Glen had written to the health board following the latest results which she described as "encouraging".

She said that Health Protection Scotland reported that Tayside had achieved its lowest rates since the beginning of the surveillance, and was now likely to reach the 2011 target of a 30 per reduction in the number of cases of C difficile " if the trend continues."

She described the figures as " encouraging" and asked if NHS Tayside had set or was considering setting its own figure for the reduction in the number of cases of C difficile ,which was lower than Scottish Government figure, for the 2011 target date.

Labour has proposed a 50 per cent reduction by 2011, 20 per cent tougher than the Scottish Government level.

" Healthcare acquired infection such as C difficile-associated disease has been a worrying issue for many in recent years.

"Tough targets for its detection and control must be maintained and met to ensure its damage is minimised as much as possible.

" Tayside’s latest figures for the recorded cases of C difficile , their lowest yet, show that everyone - patients, staff and visitors - is taking responsibility for tackling healthcare acquired infection."

In reply, NHs Tayside said that though the results were pleasing , 3 months was not a long enough period for them to be confident that any improvement is sustained .

There was a marked seasonal fluctuation driven by admissions and the increase in the number of admissions for community infections .

The figures overall were better described as "stable" at this stage.

Once the HEAT target was achieved they would still continue to implement good practice around prescribing and infection control.

However, it was anticipated that there would be a point where they would reach an irreducible minimum given the ubiquitous nature of this bacterium.



(1) HEAT targets : HEAT is an acronym for Health, Efficiency, Access and Treatment

(2) The latest Health Protection Scotland report indicates that the quarterly figures for the number of cases of C difficile related disease per 1,000 occupied bed days amongst elderly patients was 0.95 which is substantially down on the 1.33 rate recorded for 2008 overall.

The 0.95 figure was also below the interim target set for January-March 2009 of 1.24

The Scottish Government has set Tayside a 0.98 HEAT target to accomplish by March 2011.



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