Routine MRSA screening for Scottish hospitals

Person cleaning their hands The Liberal Democrats said the Scottish government should ensure all visitors wash their hands

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All patients in Scottish hospitals are to be routinely screened for MRSA.

The move, to begin next year, comes as a result of Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon accepting the MRSA National Programme Board's recommendations.

All patients should be screened on admission and if someone is identified as being at risk, they will have swabs taken for further laboratory testing.

High-risk patients, including those in intensive care, will be routinely tested using swabbing.

In cases of planned admissions patients will be screened beforehand.

Ms Sturgeon said: "I've made tackling healthcare associated infections - such as MRSA - a priority and we've put in place a range of measures which are driving infection rates down.

"MRSA screening is already used throughout Scotland but I have today accepted the expert group's recommendations to put in place national minimum requirements that will extend the scope of our existing approach to screening.

"Their advice is based on results from a world leading scientific based study in Scotland completed over the past two years."

Ms Sturgeon added: "This approach will help to further ensure those potentially at risk from MRSA infection are either treated prior to admission or cared for in appropriate isolation facilities, whilst laboratory results are awaited, to prevent the risk of infection spreading."

Hygiene rules

Professor Jacqui Reilly, the MRSA screening programme director at Health Protection Scotland, said: "These reports evaluate the impact of implementation of universal screening for MRSA and give an early indication that it may be of additional benefit in reducing infections."

Liberal Democrat Health spokesman Ross Finnie said: "While any action to reduce the number of patients that contract MRSA in hospital is welcome, these recommendations do not tackle the problem of infections spread by visitors.

"The Scottish government must make it a priority to ensure that all visitors in hospitals wash their hands and abide by any other hygiene rules in place.

"This twin-track approach is the only way that hospital-borne infections will be eradicated from our hospitals."

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