Press Release

Minister for Health launches National Clinical Guideline on the Prevention and Control of MRSA

Rates of MRSA Halved since 2006

The Minister for Health, Dr James Reilly TD, today (11 December) launched the Second National Clinical Guideline – Prevention and Control Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

This guideline was quality assured by the National Clinical Effectiveness Committee (NCEC). The NCEC recommended the guideline to the Minister, who endorsed it.

The Minister said “while we have reduced the rates of MRSA by 50% since 2006, we still have a long way to go. We must continue to systematically address the prevalence of MRSA in Ireland. This guideline is a significant step and I am pleased to launch it.”

Both the Minister and the Department of Health welcome the ongoing HIQA hospital hygiene reports and note the concerns raised in these, and indeed, previous reports about hand hygiene practices particularly among medical staff. The Government is supportive of the HSE’s ongoing work through its national programme of activity to raise awareness amongst staff, monitor compliance with national standards and to take action to reduce HCAIs in hospitals.

Tackling the twin problems of healthcare associated infections and antimicrobial resistance is a global challenge and a major patient safety priority at national level. Healthcare associated infections are one of the leading causes of preventable harm experienced by patients in modern healthcare and cause a significant burden of mortality, morbidity and increased costs.

MRSA is one of the most well-known bacterial infections which have become resistant to commonly used antibiotics. While many live with MRSA in the community and come to no harm, MRSA can, in certain settings, cause severe and at times fatal infections such as septicemia (bloodstream infections) and pneumonia.

This National Clinical Guideline: Prevention and Control Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) provides practical guidance on prevention and control measures for MRSA to improve patient care, minimise patient morbidity and mortality and to help contain healthcare costs.

The guideline has been developed for all healthcare staff involved in the care of patients, residents or clients who may be at risk of or may have MRSA in acute hospitals, obstetrics and neonates, nursing homes/long stay residential units and the community.

The Minister acknowledged the work of The Clinical Advisory Group on healthcare associated infections – MRSA Guideline Committee of the Royal College of Physicians Ireland, and thanked the National Clinical Effectiveness Committee for its role in quality assuring this important guideline.

Copy of report is available from HERE


Notes for Editors

The National Clinical Effectiveness Committee
  1. The National Clinical Effectiveness Committee (NCEC) was established as part of the Patient Safety First Initiative in September 2010. It is chaired by Professor Hilary Humphreys and comprises key stakeholders: clinicians, patient representatives, the Department of Health, patient safety experts, health managers, regulatory bodies, training and education bodies, insurance and clinical indemnity agencies and private healthcare
  2. The NCEC’s mission is to provide a framework for national endorsement of clinical guidelines and audit to optimise patient and service user care. It has a remit to establish and implement processes for the prioritisation and quality assurance of clinical guidelines and clinical audit so as to recommend them to the Minister for Health to become part of a suite of National Clinical Guidelines and National Clinical Audit.
National Clinical Guidelines
  1.  National Clinical Guidelines are “systematically developed statements, based on a thorough evaluation of the evidence, to assist practitioner and service users’ decisions about appropriate healthcare for specific clinical circumstances across the entire clinical system”.
  2. The first National Clinical Guideline: National Early Warning Score (NEWS) was launched by Minister Reilly in February 2013. NEWS clearly sets out how to recognise and respond to patients whose condition is deteriorating. This guideline has been designed for adults in acute hospitals and is based on international evidence of what is known to work best.
  3. They aim to provide guidance and standards for improving the quality, safety and cost effectiveness of healthcare in Ireland. They support the provision of evidence based consistent care across Irish healthcare services so that patients, regardless of where they are in the country or the service they attend, will experience the same high quality, safe, evidence based care.
  4.  They also support services in meeting HIQA’s National Standards for Safer Better Healthcare and anticipated future licensing requirements.
Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)
  1.  MRSA infection is caused by a strain of staph bacteria that has become resistant to antibiotics which can cause severe and at times fatal infections. The %MRSA in Ireland has decreased from 42% in 2006 to 22.8% in 2012. Although the overall trend in the proportion of MRSA observed in Ireland is decreasing, it is still relatively high and compares with the UK and Southern European countries. Information on the National Clinical Effectiveness Committee and National Clinical guidelines is available at: