Dramatic drop off in C-Diff infection rates recorded at Altnagelvin and across west

The Western Trust.
The Western Trust.

New figures show that the number of people developing potentially lethal Clostridium difficile infections while in hospital locally has dropped dramatically.

At Altnagelvin Hospital and the Western Health and Social Care Trust’s other facilities the number of confirmed cases in patients aged 65 and over has fallen from 132 back in 2006/07 to just 37 in the last year.

The figures from the Public Health Agency also show that the number of younger people from age two and over contracting C-Diff has also decreased from 139 back in 2008/09 to 48 last year.

C-Diff is a bacterial infection that can affect the digestive system, usually among people who are given antibiotics. It can result in life-threatening conditions such as severe swelling of the bowel from a gas build-up .

Cases of MRSA have also been falling locally, from a high of 22 cases in 2007/08 to 12 last year. From April to the start of this month there have been seven cases.

Fiona Hughes, Head of Infection Prevention and Control for the Western Trust, said reducing such infections remained one of the Trust’s top priorities.

She said: “The latest update demonstrates the high level of performance which the Western Trust maintains.

“Prevention of healthcare associated infection requires a complex combination of measures across a range of systems. The controls are continuously updated in line with international evidence and the Trust has bench marked its processes with high performing Trusts in the rest of the UK.”

Ms Hughes said the measures used to achieve the reductions were “many and varied”. They include international care bundles, hand hygiene, non-touch techniques, equipment decontamination and control of antibiotics.

“In addition there is also an ongoing programme of staff education and provision of up to date guidelines and policies,” she said, adding:

“This performance is great news for our patients and visitors, and is testament to the hard work that all of our staff, from our cleaning teams to our doctors and nurses, have put in to driving down infections. It is also thanks to our patients and visitors, who are obviously careful to follow our infection reduction rules, such as washing their hands regularly. However, we all know that just one infection is one too many, so we cannot be complacent.”