There has been a major outbreak of Clostridium difficile in Northern Ireland in the last year. After taking a rigorous and robust 3 pronged approach The Northern Health and Social Care Trust (fascinating Management Structure chart pdf) are widely trumpeting that the outbreak is now crushed and only 2 more unecessary deaths and 11 infections occurred last month - although they failed to reveal at which hospitals these infections were located.
Since last summer over 61 deaths have been linked to C. difficile of which 40 (now 42) have died this calendar year. When we last covered this topic 2 months ago the respective figures were 53 and 32. see Saturday, July 05, 2008 Northern Ireland Clostridium difficile deaths and infection continue despite throwing money at it £6 Mn "investment" by McJimpsey
So the NHSCT have declared the outbreak over "as at August 31st" because " there had been a sustained reduction in the number of new cases and there was no evidence of recent transmission."
Meanwhile they will continue with their multi million £ three-pronged policy against this faecal contaminant ;
1. Infection control procedures - including restrictions on visiting ***
2. Rigorous antibiotic management
3. Enhanced environmental cleaning
Not to mention carryong on spending the £9m the NI Health Minister Michael McGimpsey has thrown (he calls it an "investment") at Northern Health and Social Care Trust, with the very modest aim of reducing MRSA by 10% and C. difficile by 20% by March 2009. Ulster Unionist and property developer 60 year old McJimpsey spends nearly half the NI total Budget.
The Northern Health and Social Care Trust emply 13,000 staff providing services to a population of around 440,000 in rural and suburban communities with an annual budge of £500 million.
*** Visiting Policies in NI Hospitals
Western Health and Social Trust have issued a "Hospital Visiting Policy" a 12 page document dateed August 2008 which has the fascinating restriction :
Visitors should be advised that in the interest of promoting patient privacy that camera phones, cameras and camcorders should not be used within the ward area except in Maternity Department where special guidance in available.
The Southern Health and Social Care Trust have a 13 page "Acute Hospital Visiting Policy" which is undated and different to the above which has the injunction :
For confidentiality reasons cameras on mobile phones, cameras and camcorders arenot to be used by visitors within the ward area without seeking permission from wardstaff
The Belfast Health and Social Care Trust (the biggest with 22,000 employees and possibly he biggest employer in NI) revealed a "Knock out plan for C difficile " just one month ago - The Trust’s Medical Director, Dr Tony said on August 7th - “It is our intention to deliver a knock out blow to C difficile in Belfast hospitals”. This included strict adherence to the rules on visiting.
They do not appear to have any published policy on visiting but have a web page that identifies 4 simple rules dated April 4th 2008 ..
• to clean their hands before and after visiting a hospital ward
• not to visit if they feel unwell, have a cold, diarrhoea or vomiting
• not to bring perishable foods in to hospitals
• stick to the visiting times and the numbers of visitors allowed at one time.
The recently introduced restrictions on cameras refelect public hysteria about phtography but also prevent foer example (as has happened) the awkward squad taking pics of... filthy unwashed floors, faecal smears on toilets, filthy sheets , discarded wound dressings etc.,
There were on census day 29th April 2001 ,1,685,267 people in N. Ireland (curiously females 863,818 significantly outnumbered males 821,449 ) - slightly more than the population of Merseyside..
Why do they need three bodies to organise their healthcare ?
Why can't those three bodies have a single simple staightforward standardised policy with rules and guidelines on visiting ? (Indeed why don't we have national one ?)