Significant reduction in MRSA in Western Isles

There has been a significant ongoing reduction in the number of new cases of MRSA in the Western Isles since the introduction of the national MRSA Screening Pilot locally – dropping from 122 new cases in 2010, to 66 in 2011 and 24 to date in 2012.

According to the figures available for the first six months of each year (January 1 to June 30), new cases of MRSA in the Western Isles have more than halved since 2010, from 64 new cases, to 24 in 2012.

The positive trend was acknowledged by Board members at a Board meeting last week (Thursday), with the Chair, Neil Galbraith, describing it as ‘very encouraging’.

NHS Western Isles was one of the ‘pathfinder’ Boards involved in the universal screening programme from April 2009. Two years later, NHS Western Isles progressed from universal screening of all MRSA ‘at risk’ patients, to screening using a ‘Clinical Risk Assessment’. The CRA is part of the nursing and admission process that consists of three questions to assess whether the patient has any previous history of MRSA; is currently resident, working or regularly attending a care home or institutional setting, or transferred from another hospital; or if the patient has a wound/ulcer or invasive device which was present before admission to hospital. If the patient is assessed positively against any of the criteria, they will be tested for MRSA.

Throughout 2011, the CRA has been introduced to Ospadal Uibhist agus Bharraigh in Benbecula, St Brendan’s in Barra and key wards within Western Isles Hospital in Stornoway.

Scottish Government funding of around £216,000, meanwhile, was allocated to NHS Western Isles in 2011/12 to support the rollout of the CRA. A sum was used to support the laboratory department with MRSA screening costs, and a clinical skills instructor was also appointed for clinical practice training.

Other improvements and upgrades introduced as a result of the funding included new maternity delivery beds, new bed tables and patient lockers, new screens and curtains, new Dyson pedestal fans and air blade hand dryers, specimen and drug fridges, and vinyl chairs for patient use.

New cases of MRSA in the Western Isles have dropped considerably as a result of the range of new measures in place, together with the impact of hand hygiene improvements and new measures introduced to prevent Staph aureus Bacteremia.

NHS Western Isles Chief Executive Gordon Jamieson said: “The prevention and control of infection is, and remains, one of our top priorities. Our attention is constantly focussed on this important issue. Staff should take credit for their teamwork in reaching this very good position.”