Worthing Hospital celebrates being MRSA-free for one year

The infection control team at Worthing Hospital

The infection control team at Worthing Hospital

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TEAMWORK, determination and a great working relationship – that’s the winning combination which has kept Worthing Hospital free from MRSA for a whole calendar year.

The achievement is the result of a culture of zero tolerance at Worthing, Southlands and St Richard’s hospitals, which has ensured that hundreds of thousands of patients cared for by Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust have been protected from the dangers of the MRSA infection.

Sheila Loveridge, infection control nurse consultant, said the staff at the hospitals should give themselves a pat on the back – for the landmark achievement is down to a close working relationship and a real dedication to good hygiene from the hospital staff.

“I am so proud of all the staff,” she said. “The infection control team at Worthing works very closely with a number of different teams across the hospital, and it is down to every single member of staff doing their job, and doing it well, that we have managed to achieve this.”

Infection control has become a priority for the trust in recent years, and has seen improvements such as an increase in cleaning rounds and extra training for the housekeeping staff, detailed root cause analysis of any MRSA case, investment in all levels of nursing and a highly qualified team of infection control specialists, who work with ward staff to ensure they always follow the best practice.

At Worthing, the infection control team also works closely with the on-site laboratory and the intravenous team – who have specialist ultrasound equipment which allows staff to insert the needles more precisely, lowering the risk of infection.

Lynn Ashton, senior nurse for infection control at Worthing, said: “We do a lot of liaising between departments, keeping everyone in the loop, and making sure the right standards are maintained. Our latest PEAT (Patient Environment Action Team) inspection came back as ‘excellent’, but there’s always more that can be done. You can always strive to be better.”

As well as being MRSA free, there were also no cases of Clostridium difficile – a severe bacterial infection which attacks the digestive system – at Worthing Hospital in November, which is heralded as an extremely rare occurrence in a busy hospital.

Trust chief executive Marianne Griffiths said: “Of course we cannot guarantee that this run will go on forever, but we always aim to have no cases, and will continue to do so. To go for the whole of 2011 without any new MRSA cases speaks volumes for the standards of care at our hospitals.”