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Major improvements needed to wards at North Wales Hospitals to reduce risk of infection

Published date: 17 July 2017 |
Published by: Staff reporter
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Major improvements are needed to wards at the three main North Wales hospitals to reduce the risk of infection.

A survey carried out over the past year into standards of cleanliness revealed several key areas for improvements and there were concerns about the level of clutter in many clinical areas which prevented effective cleaning.

A report to be considered by the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board on Thursday states: “The ward environments across a number of acute hospital sites, including Ysbyty Gwynedd and Wrexham Maelor, require extensive programmes of environmental modernisation to ensure that clinical facilities are fit for purpose and meet modern standards to support the prevention of infection.”

To help meet Welsh Government cleanliness standards domestic staffing numbers have been increased and there has been capital investment in equipment.

In 2013 the Board was fiercely criticised for its handling of a serious outbreak of the clostridium difficile bug at Glan Clwyd Hospital. Between January and May that year there were 96 cases and 30 people died.

Professor Brian Duerden, an independent expert, was commissioned to present a report on the situation and eventually the chairman and vice-chairman stood down. He was highly critical of the handling of the outbreak but in follow-up reports in 2014 and 2016 said there had been substantial improvements.

In her report to this week’s meeting, however, Gill Harris, executive director of nursing and midwifery, says that while there has been a 25% drop in the number of c-diff cases and 9% in the number of MRSA cases, the board has still failed to meet targets for 2016-17.

“Rates of infection in BCUHB remain too high and the health board is committed to protecting people from infections,” says the report.

“Improvements are needed across a wide range of key clinical practice standards, including the care of invasive devices and antimicrobial prescribing, and the focus of work within BCUHB is on these aspects of care.”

In Ysbyty Gwynedd there was a 47% drop in c-diff cases, in in Wrexham Maelor 39% and in Glan Clwyd 9%.

Ysbyty Gwynedd also recorded a reduction of 36% in cases of MRSA – the so-called “killer bug” – while Wrexham Maelor improved by 33% and Glan Clwyd by 14%.

In Wrexham, however, there was a sharp increase in MRSA cases in April this year, with five patients diagnosed with the infection.

According to Mrs Harris, this resulted in “rapid focussed action” and an intensive improvement programme.

A community awareness programme targeting care homes, schools and the general public, will be launched later this year.

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