Care Quality Commission
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Responding to the latest figure on incidents of healthcare associated infection in NHS trusts released today by the Health Protection Agency, Healthcare Commission Chief Executive Anna Walker said:

"MRSA infection rates appear to show a continuing decline. This is

encouraging. At last there seems to be a genuine turnaround as trusts strive to reach the 2008 target. However the figures for C.difficile are less encouraging. Although the increase is slower, it is still on the rise. This will cause concern to patients.

"We fully recognise that outbreaks of C.difficile are not easy to control. But we also know that trusts can minimise the spread of infection by following rigorously established guidance on infection control".

The Health Act 2006 requires all NHS trusts to observe the provisions of the Government’s Hygiene Code, which came into force last October. For the first time this year, trusts will have to declare whether they believe they have all the necessary measures in place to comply with the hygiene code as part of the annual assessment of NHS trusts.

The Commission has already followed up more than 40 trusts that declared non-compliance against the core standard on the control of infection in 2005/6. Each of these trusts have now been able to provide assurance that they are now meeting these core standards as well as the requirements of the Hygiene Code.

Ms Walker added:

"HPA data will feed into our surveillance and response work. This information will enable us to detect those trusts that may be at risk of not meeting the necessary standards even though they have declared compliance.

"In May, we will start a programme of risked based inspections. Trusts that are found to have breached significant requirements of the hygiene code will be issued with improvement notices to ensure that they take the appropriate remedial action.

Trusts’ compliance with standards for infection control will also be reflected in the 2006/7 annual health check - the rating of their performance, which will be published later this year."

Information on the Healthcare Commission

The Healthcare Commission is the health watchdog in England. It keeps check on health services to ensure they are meeting standards in a range of areas. The Commission also promotes improvements in the quality of healthcare and public health in England through independent, authoritative, patient centred assessments of those who provide services. Responsibility for inspection and investigation of NHS bodies and the independent sector in Wales rests with Healthcare Inspectorate Wales (HIW). The Healthcare Commission has certain statutory functions in Wales which include producing an annual report on the state of healthcare in England and Wales, national improvement reviews in England and Wales, and working with HIW to ensure that relevant cross border issues are managed effectively.

The Healthcare Commission does not cover Scotland as it has its own body,

NHS Quality Improvement Scotland. The Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) undertakes regular reviews of the quality of services in Northern Ireland.

For further information contact Megan 020 7448 9237 or Alero Harrison on 0207 448 9210 or, out of office hours 0777 999 0845.

Alero Harrison

Media Relations Manager

Healthcare Commission

Finsbury Tower

103-105 Bunhill Row

London EC1 8TG


Tel: 0207 448 9210

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