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‘War on superbugs’ like E.coli announced by government – BBC News

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Image copyright Science Photo Library
Image caption There were 40,000 cases of E.coli in England last year, an increase of 20% in five years

The government has announced a new war against superbugs, such as E.coli, because they are increasing in number.

While deadly strains such as MRSA and C.diff have reduced significantly over the last decade, cases of E.coli are on the rise in England, killing more than 5,500 people last year.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said there would be a renewed focus on hand-washing and hygienic use of catheters.

E.coli infection rates will also be displayed in hospital wards.

E.coli infections, which can cause respiratory, urinary and surgical site infections and turn into life-threatening sepsis, make up nearly two-thirds of antibiotic-resistant infections.

Because they do not respond to drugs and most available antibiotics, they can thrive and pass on genetic materials that also allow other bacteria to become drug-resistant.

E.coli infections are set to cost the NHS more than 2bn by 2018.

But there is a large variation in hospital infection rates, with the highest performers having more than five times the number of cases than the lowest.

Hygiene call

As a result, Mr Hunt wants staff, patients and visitors to wash their hands regularly and patients with devices – such as catheters – to be given better care.

Catheters, which are often used following surgery, can develop further infections like E.coli if they are not inserted properly or left in too long.

The government’s plans also include the appointment of a new national infection tsar, Dr Ruth May, and a stricter inspection regime for hospitals.

It also plans to publish E.coli rates in hospital wards, where they will be visible to patients and visitors – which is what currently happens for MRSA and C.diff rates.

The NHS will also be publishing data on prescriptions so that patients and commissioners can see which trusts are correctly prescribing antibiotics.

Mr Hunt said: “Taken together, these measures are intended to achieve a dramatic reduction in hospital infections, reducing enormous human pain and suffering in the process. They will make us better at knowing when to use antibiotics and better at knowing when not to use them.”

As an incentive, Clinical Commissioning Groups that reduce E.coli bloodstream infections by 10% and use antibiotics appropriately will get a share of 45m in 2017-18.

Treating each patient with E.coli costs the NHS between 3,000 and 6,000, the government said.

Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-37871432

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