Warning: This post was published more than 11 years ago.
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Private cleaning contractors, managers and even visitors could face criminal liability for spreading the hospital superbug MRSA in the NHS.
Presumably, these people would then be forced to wear the uniforms proposed by her Crazy Cabinet colleague, Hazel Blears.
But, seriously, what does Ms Hewitt hope to acheive by making spreading MRSA a crime? To do so would mean that doctors would have to take every possible step to avoid litigation – is she seriously suggesting that all doctors should have a full surgical scrub before seeing every patient? That would more than triple the length of the average consultation, so I hope she’s got some money squirrelled away for lots of extra doctors. And what about the emergency situation? Are we all to completely scrub up before performing emergency procedures? A few more deaths might well be occuring if that’s expected.
MRSA will only be brought under control with sensible steps to educate medical staff and the public about prevention, and the necessary funding to keep hygeine standards up. If the funding had been available to put alcohol gel next to every bed five or six years ago – instead of only just getting round to it – then MRSA wouldn’t be such a big a problem now. Threatening people with litigation is simply absurd, and deeply unhelpful. And if she’s going to start slapping fines on cleaning companies, standards are unlikely to improve much but costs will sky-rocket. So I hope there’s lots of money available for the government to pay its own fines, too.
Update: Typo corrected