Big decrease in Scottish C. diff and MRSA rate

Generic hospital ICU The levels are the lowest since mandatory surveillance began

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Rates of C. diff and MRSA in Scottish hospitals have continued to fall over the past year, according to figures released by the Scottish government.

Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said levels of MRSA dropped by 31% in the first quarter of 2010 compared with the same period last year.

There was also a 44% reduction in C. diff cases in patients over 65.

The Scottish government has said tackling hospital acquired infections is a "top priority".

Ms Sturgeon said there were 117 cases of MRSA in hospitals between January and March - a reduction of 53 cases from the same period last year.

The 641 reported recorded cases of C. diff over the same period was 511 fewer than in the first quarter of 2009.

There was also a 17% drop in the number of under 65s who contracted C. diff, from 235 to 194.

Ms Sturgeon said the figures were the lowest since mandatory surveillance of hospital-acquired infections began.

'Not complacent'

She said: "I have made tackling hospital infections my top priority, both to reduce the misery these infections cause patients and their families and increase public confidence in Scotland's NHS.

"Working with health boards, we have introduced a range of measures designed to reduce infection rates and we are now seeing clear evidence - quarter after quarter - that these initiatives are delivering results.

"But we're not complacent. That's why I recently announced that we're increasing the C. diff target to achieve at least a 50% reduction in rates for over 65s by March 2011.

"This will be a challenging target for boards to meet but I expect them to redouble their efforts to ensure they succeed."

The Scottish government has introduced a range of measures to cut rates of C. diff and MRSA.

These include independent, unannounced inspections from the Healthcare Environment Inspectorate and providing hundreds of additional cleaning staff across the NHS.

The original target was for health boards to achieve a minimum 30% reduction in C. diff cases by March 2011. This has now been increased to 50%.

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