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E.Coli Rise Caused by Tory Cuts

Friday, February 17, 2017

 

Thousands could die if cuts to hospital cleaning staff and outsourcing of contracts continue.

An ‘appalling’ rise in deadly super bugs E.coli and MRSA is linked to the Conservatives cutting and outsourcing cleaning contracts, according to GMB.

Three thousand cleaners have been slashed from the NHS wage bill since 2011/12, new figures obtained by the GMB reveal - despite hospitals treating more than a million more patients every year since then. [1]

Meanwhile in the past year cases of E.coli, MRSA and MSSA – a strain of the MRSA bacteria – have rocketed by more than 8,000.

Between 2004 and 2008 MRSA infection rates were cut by 57% after the Government was forced to spend £120 million on cleaning and other improvements following the rise of ‘super-bug’ antibiotic resistant bacteria. [2]

However, official statistics show that the number of MRSA infections increased in 2015/16 after many years of decline.

Meanwhile, a shocking new study by Oxford University has found that the risk of MRSA infection is 50 per cent higher in hospitals that outsource cleaning contracts, compared those that keep cleaning services in-house. [3]

Rehana Azam, GMB National Secretary for Public Services, said:

“These appalling figures leave no doubt that years of outsourcing and cuts to cleaning staff pose a serious threat to patients’ safety.

“There must be no going back to days when thousands of people died every year due to preventable hospital related infections.

“That’s why the recent increase in cases of MRSA and other bacterial infections is so concerning.

“We know that having proper numbers of well-treated cleaners makes a difference.

“Our members do their best even when faced with long hours and low pay, but skyrocketing patient numbers are stretching them to their limits.

“The NHS faces a multi-billion pound gap in its finances by 2020, and the fear is that Trusts will be tempted to cut or outsource cleaning services even further.

“Trusts need to put public safety first and stop treating cleaners as a soft target for cost-cutting, and the Government must provide the NHS with the fair funding that it urgently needs.”

ENDS

[1] GMB analysis of NHS cleaner numbers and hospital related infection rates:

 

Cleaners to patient numbers

 

Number of Healthcare Associated Infections

 

Cleaners

Inpatients

 

C.Diff

MRSA

MSSA

E.Coli

2010/11

39,167

14,890,844

 

 21,707

 1,481

 

 

2011/12

41,046

15,019,396

 

 18,022

 1,116

 8,767

 

2012/13

38,867

15,145,633

 

 14,694

 924

 8,812

 32,309

2013/14

38,653

15,462,057

 

 13,362

 862

 9,290

 34,286

2014/15

38,738

15,892,457

 

 14,192

 800

 9,845

 35,764

2015/16

38,391

16,251,841

 

 14,139

 819

 10,586

 38,132

Written Parliamentary Answer on NHS cleaner numbers (FTE including in-house and outsourced workers), 26 January 2017, http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2017-01-18/60678/

Inpatient data for Finished Admission Episodes taken from NHS Digital’s Hospital Admitted Patient Care Activity Time Series, updated November 2016, http://www.content.digital.nhs.uk/catalogue/PUB22378

Infection statistics are taken from Public Health England’s MRSA, MSSA and E. coli bacteraemia and C. difficile infection: annual epidemiological commentary, https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/mrsa-mssa-and-e-coli-bacteraemia-and-c-difficile-infection-annual-epidemiological-commentary

[2] National Audit Office, Reducing Healthcare Associated Infections in Hospitals in England, 12 June 2009, https://www.nao.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/0809560es.pdf

[3] University of Oxford, NHS hospitals that outsource cleaning ‘linked with higher rates of MRSA,’ 21 December 2016, http://www.ox.ac.uk/news/2016-12-21-nhs-hospitals-outsource-cleaning-%E2%80%98linked-higher-rates-mrsa%E2%80%99

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