Scottish Government
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MRSA screening programme

A pilot project to screen patients for MRSA before admission to hospital was officially launched today.

From this summer, all non-emergency admissions to hospital in three health board areas will be screened for MRSA as part of the pre-admission procedures.

If the pilot is successful in the pathfinder areas - NHS Ayrshire and Arran, NHS Western Isles and NHS Grampian - screening will be rolled out across the NHS in Scotland from 2009-10.

On a visit to Kilmarnock's Crosshouse Hospital, which is involved with the pilot, Helath Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said:

"It's crucial that the public have confidence in their NHS and know that they're going to get the best possible care if they need hospital treatment.

"Healthcare Associated Infection (HAI) is a problem for health services around the world and Scotland is no different. But we're determined to do all we can to minimise the risk that patients will contract MRSA, which can cause unnecessary complications.

"A simple swab as part of the pre-admission process is all it takes to establish whether a patient has MRSA. Many people carry the bug on their skin or in their nose but it is only when it enters an open wound that it causes problems - that is why we are introducing screening for hospital patients.

"This move is part of a wider drive to minimise the impact of HAIs because tackling HAI successfully is one of our top priorities.

"In tandem with initiatives such as our national hand hygiene campaign and a new reporting system for C.diff, MRSA screening will help us meet our target to reduce Staph.aureus blood infections by 2010."

The pilot is expected to cost around £5.2 million.

An interim report on the MRSA pilot project is due by March 31, 2009. This report will determine the shape of the national programme which is due to start in 2009-10.

The Scottish Government is committed to reducing all staphylococcus aureus bacteraemia (including MRSA) by 30 per cent by 2010.

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