Leeds hospitals fined over superbugs

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LEEDS hospitals are now facing a fine of £500,000 over failure to tackle the MRSA superbug.

Latest figures show that cases of the bug are again above allowed levels.

So the city’s hospitals are set to be fined another £100,000 – taking the total to half a million pounds.

As reported by the YEP earlier this year, every month that the number of MRSA cases exceeds a target agreed by health bosses, a fine of £100,000 is levied.

Between April last year and the end of January, the target was breached four times.

Latest figures show it was breached again in February, with four cases reported, so another £100,000 fine has been added.

Leeds Teaching Hospitals director of informatics Alison Dailly said in a report: “The trust failed the target for the month, as the number of bacteraemias reported is significantly above the trajectory, which allows only one MRSA case per month between November 2010 and March 2011.”

In the 11 months to February, there were 23 incidences of MRSA – less than the 37 reported the year before – but over the allowed number of 18. That means it will miss the target over cutting cases of the bug and, according to the rules set by health chiefs, won’t have the fines reimbursed.

“As the local trajectory has now been exceeded for 2010/11, the trust will not achieve the target for the year,” Ms Dailly added.

“The trust is therefore forecast to either underachieve or fail the indicator for 2010/11.”

Chief nurse Ruth Holt told a meeting of hospital directors: “We are taking the issue very seriously and we have increased our performance management arrangements.

“It’s particularly disappointing after having a good start to the year.”

She said there had been increased pressure on the hospital over the winter but they were focusing on improving performance.

Analysis is done on every case of MRSA to find out where it has come from.

Previously Leeds Teaching Hospitals, which has an annual budget of nearly £1bn, had been threatened with multi-million pound penalties for failing to cut superbug numbers.

In 2009 the YEP revealed that the hospitals trust faced a penalty of up to £20m as it had consistently failed to meet targets on MRSA and C.diff.

That money would not be taken away from funding but would have to be spent on tackling the issue.

Since then numbers of cases have been significantly reduced and had been on track to stay low until the increase over the last few months.

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