Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust faces £3.5m C-diff infection fine
Targets for C-diff
reduction are unlikely to be met
by Mary Graham
Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust revealed this week
it could be hit with a £3.5 million fine due to the number of
C-diff infection cases at its hospitals.
The trust found itself at the centre of a "superbug" scandal in
2007, when clostridium difficile was named as contributing to the
deaths of 90 patients between 2004 and 2006. In the same two years
there were 1,176 cases.
The Healthcare Commission's 2007 report revealed the scale of
the hygiene failures, which included patients being told to soil
Since then, infection rates have been strictly monitored and
every hospital trust is set targets on infection cases.
The South East Coast strategic health authority set Maidstone
and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust a limit of 49 from April last year to
the end of March this year.
As of Tuesday, there had been 47 and the trust's infection
experts forecast that by the end of March there will have been
Each incident over the limit carries a £500,000 fine, meaning
the trust could stack up £3.5m in penalties if its prediction is
correct. At a stroke this would wipe out £500,000 of savings made
last year when 20 people took redundancy.
Dr Sara Mumford, director of infection prevention and control,
said: "At this point we are not on course to meet the challenging
"It is particularly important to emphasise that regardless of
this we are on course to achieve a reduction in the number of
C-diff cases compared to last year and over the past six years we
have consistently reduced the number."
In 2010-11, the trust reported 67 cases, which dropped to 64 in
2011-12, a 4.5% reduction.
Trust spokesman Darren Yates said: "Our target is 49, a 24%
reduction on last year, so even if we go three cases over target,
we’d still see one of our biggest reductions in the last two years
with a corresponding year on year fall of 19%, although we accept
that every case is one too many."
has looked at whether strong antibiotics, which can cause people to
have less resistance to bacterial infections, are being routinely
prescribed to people before admittance to hospital.
External assessors have examined hygiene practices and no issues
have been found, wards have been deep cleaned and reminders have
been issued to all staff.
But managers admit it is difficult to assess hand hygiene in
single rooms at the Tunbridge Wells Hospital.
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