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16 October 2014

Arnish Lighthouse

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It was reported today that the number of patients at the Western Isles Hospital in Stornoway, found to be colonised with the MRSA bacterium, has risen by 30%. Previously, the hospital held the position with the lowest number of MRSA patients. The Medical Director to the Western Isles NHS Board has declared that this should be viewed in the context of an increased number of patients.

MRSA stands for Multi Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus. It is a bug which occurs naturally in the community at large, living primarily on people's skin. In healthy people it does not pose a threat. It becomes a definite threat in those of frail health, reduce immunity or with open wounds. Any infection with this bug is very difficult to treat. As the abbreviation implies, the organism is resistant to virtually all antibiotics.

It is common practice to take swab tests of everybody in hospital to check whether MRSA is present on the skin. A positive test for MRSA is no cause for immediate concern, it merely indicates that measures need to be taken. The bacterium can be eradicated from the skin with disinfectant washes, which the hospital doctor will prescribe.

The worsened MRSA situation at Western Isles Hospital has arisen as a result of increased patient through-put, according to the Medical Director. He will want to cast a critical look at the whole picture. If patients are shunted from ward to ward several times during their admission there is every chance that MRSA gets transferred along with them. If precautions, like washing hands between patients by doctors, nurses and other professionals, are not adhered to, then this also increases the risk. Standards in nursing care are set to have fallen as a result of the comprehensive breakdown of staff-management relations. Pressure to discharge patients because their beds are needed will inevitably result in patients being discharged before they are really fit to go home. As a result, they'll come straight back in again.

It is disappointing to see the result of the mismanagement at NHS Western Isles borne out in these poor statistics. It is a cause of grave concern that standards of care have now demonstrably fallen, affecting patient care and health.

A few days ago, I reported that the Board's Medical Director did not think it necessary to have a hospice in the Western Isles, a grossly insensitive statement. Now we have the same medical director not being prepared to face up to the consequences of the Health Board's actions. It's one thing having a deficit of £3m. It's quite another to allow patient care to suffer. Cutbacks could be made elsewhere. Like in the remuneration of GP out-of-hours services, in giving financial perks to senior managers (free flights home every weekend, top-of-the-range relocation expenses).

I am pleased to note that the Western Isles MSP is asking questions.
The Health Minister should act; this problem is beyond local resolution.
Posted on Arnish Lighthouse at 17:28


Did they give the actual number of cases of MRSA reported? A 30% increase looks bad - but it depends how many the figure refers to.

Burt from Edinburgh

30% increase on a low figure may still be negligible. Remember the expression, 'There's lies, damned lies and statistics.'

calumannabel from ness

This morning, Radio nan Gael reported that councillor Angus Graham (Gress) has demanded the resignation of the Health Minister. About time.

Arnish Lighthouse from Stornoway

Quite a lot of patients that have had to be transfered to mainland hospitals and then back again have contracted this. It is very difficult for old people to recover from it, it is really bad when people are worried not just by their illness but also by the added fear of getting this. this is old news maybe this is just a political stunt to discredit the board even further, can't get them out one way try another.

Uibhisteach from uibhist

I should admit to a typo. It should have read 300% (three hundred). The number of cases between January and March 2006 equalled the sum total for the whole of 2005. As for politically discrediting the board further: it says enough that anything is being used to clobber them. Confidence has been lost over the past months and years, and new brooms are required.

Arnish Lighthouse from Stornoway

Heaven forbid the thought of Comhairle nan Eilean using the Health Board bosses' incompetence and the misfortunes of the hospital staff as a distraction from the ongoing windfarms furore. They wouldn't...would they?

Willie from Ceann Cropaig

I work in the NHS and I'm responsible for the catering, portering and cleaning departments. It's so hard to eradicate MRSA. Visitors are the most likely to transfer the MRSA bug to patients. Some hospitals practise bed fencing. We do have strict policies of deep cleaning when the patient goes home but this alone will never stop it. My sister died of it in 1982, I'd never heard of it until then. It's because of the over use of antibiotics that these bugs become resistant to them, the problem will continue. It occurs on 75% of healthy people, I've watched doctors and surgeons do ward rounds and not wash their hands between patients. unless we can educate the staff who actually have physical contact with patients we'll never eradicate it.

Jeannette from Brighton

Jeannette Tell me you dont commute to Lewis from Brighton? Social Sevices in Aberdeen jet someone up from Buckinghamshire so I suppose anything is possible. Now this bed fencing - can we get a grant for it. I am quite happy to fence off everyone in our house if there's a grant at stake.

hamish holby md adhd from lewis

My dad has FRSA after his name - could this develop into full blown MRSA? Will my sister have to get a new hat for the ceremony if it does?

calumannabel from garrick club garrabost

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