Health Current Affairs Pets & Livestock Falling hygiene standards within NHS despite MRSA threat

by Andrew Regan - Date: 2007-05-15 - Word Count: 612 Share This!

I recently read an article in the Daily Mail, concerning staff at the Good Hope Hospital in Sutton Coldfield who had been told to turn sheets over instead of washing them between patients. I initially thought I must have inadvertently picked up an article from April 1st. But no, this article is no April fool instead it depicts yet another ‘idea' to save money in our cash strapped NHS.

A half million pound laundry bill may seem excessive, but equally in this age of super bugs and radical hygiene standards, you would expect the laundry bill to be high. Wouldn't you? According to posters displayed at the hospital it costs 0.275 pence to clean any one item. Apparently this is just too much. These penny-pinching procedures are repugnant enough in a highly sterile, clean environment, but when it occurs in a hospital that is reported to be failing in terms of MRSA cases, it moves into the realm of the ridiculous.

In 2006 the Government was forced to send in a hit squad to tackle the ever-increasing cases of infections. Yet having received this expert advice in infection management and still failing to hit MRSA targets, the decision makers have deemed that turning sheets over is the best way to save the required funds. It is only common sense to feel that poor hygiene practises will increase the number of infections.

But Good Hope isn't the only hospital that has implemented what can only be described as desperate penny-pinching ideas. In February, The Daily Telegraph reported that The Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust, had been ordered to remove light bulbs in an attempt to reduce the £3m electricity bill.

Both of these examples, and these are just 2 of many money saving schemes that are implemented all the time, will probably not deliver the necessary savings to have any lasting impact on the deficits that face our NHS hospitals. When the Government has increased the spending within the NHS by millions of pounds, it is concerning that these measures are deemed necessary to reduce deficits. Where has the additional budget gone?

Some people have questioned whether these hospitals can offer their patients the latest techniques and life saving drugs. And whether the previously reported ‘Post Code Lottery' remains prevalent throughout the UK. In reality you take a risk every time you enter a hospital. Will you contract a super bug? Will you be privy to the most appropriate drugs and techniques?

Who knows? Don't get me wrong, the NHS can offer valuable resources in certain areas. You can feel safe in the knowledge that your treatment in A&E is not dependant on the approval of an insurer. But can you feel safe that you will receive the most advanced treatments? This is where Private Health Insurance can work alongside the NHS helping relieve the pressures and yet ensure the patient does not suffer the effects large deficits can cause.

When you require eligible treatment and you know what you need to have done, you can then choose from over 240 hospitals in the UK. You can read the tabloid reports and make an informed decision. Admittedly these guarantees come at a price. Surprisingly though, these prices are becoming more and more affordable. Today, a couple in their mid-forties can take advantage of plans at as little as £1 a day.

So when articles such as those mentioned above come to light, those with enough fore-thought to have arranged PMI, get to sit back and relax, for it is unlikely that the story will relate to any hospital they might attend.

Andrew Regan is an online, freelance journalist.

Related Tags: treatment, hygiene, affordable, hospitals, nhs, pmi, mrsa, private medical insurance, super bugs, sterile, post code lottery, deficits

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