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Overcrowding at Bedford Hospital increases risk of superbug outbreak

October 23, 2007 3:00 PM

Bedford Hospital Nurse BannerLocal Liberal Democrats have warned that crowding in Bedford Hospital is increasing the risk of an outbreak of superbug infections.

High bed occupancy rates are known to be a significant contributor to the spread of superbugs in hospitals and were mentioned in the report into the outbreak of Clostridium difficile at Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust earlier this month. The scale of the outbreak shocked the nation. Experts have warned that a hospital where more than 85% of beds are occupied stands a much higher risk of suffering a superbug outbreak.

In Bedford Hospital the rate of occupancy is just over the 85% threshold. Latest figures show it is at 85.5%.

"I am extremely concerned about the overcrowding in Bedford Hospital," said Michael Headley. "These figures put Bedford Hospital teetering on the edge of the superbug danger level. There is an urgent need to address this. We have already seen Bedford ranked as having the 13th worst C. Diff infection level in over 65s and it has under-achieved in its MRSA target. Recent cuts at the hospital can only have made this worse. There are now 94 fewer beds than in 2003/04 "

"Liberal Democrats have launched a plan to ensure hospitals are cleaned up and superbugs killed off. I believe that if the plan goes ahead, it will avoid many of the terrible deaths that were highlighted earlier this month following the report on the major outbreak in Kent."

The Liberal Democrats 'Florence Nightingale Charter' for cleaner hospitals includes:

  • Urgent review of the extent of ward overcrowding
  • Zero tolerance of failures of infection control
  • Quicker and wider implementation for screening
  • Hospital matrons in charge: promoting a culture of strict hygiene standards and infection prevention
  • Strict compliance and improved dissemination of guidance on anti-biotic prescribing
  • Giving the patient power to report failure in standards