Press Release

Minister Harney Welcomes Third Prevalence Study of Healthcare-Associated Infections in Acute Hospitals

The Minster for Health and Children, Mary Harney TD, today (16th March, 2007) welcomed the Third Prevalence Survey of Healthcare-associated Infections in Acute Hospitals.

The Minister noted that the study shows that the Republic of Ireland was shown to have the lowest prevalence rate of both healthcare associated infections and MRSA when compared with England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Nevertheless, the Minister said that there is no room for complacency and, while healthcare associated infection rates here are at the lower end of the European scale, Ireland has high rates of MRSA infection when compared to countries such as the Netherlands because of our high anti-biotic consumption. There is, therefore, work to be done in bringing our HCAI rates down to best international levels.

The Minister recognises that the HSE have been putting in place a HCAI/MRSA Strategy including governance and performance management, clear outcome targets for all hospitals, recruitment and training of staff and an improved physical environment.

The Minister believes strongly that the HSE must accelerate this strategy so that patients can be assured that in the future their chances of contracting an infection will be at the minimum level possible. To achieve this, there must be a corporate commitment throughout the HSE and services generally, evidence based guidelines, clear responsibility and accountability and the recognition that the public also has a role to play in preventing HCAI.

To achieve its targets, the HSE must have good information available to it and this should be further developed as a matter of urgency by the HSE. The Department will be closely monitoring and evaluating the progress to be made by the HSE in the management and control of HCAI and MRSA.

As a sign of her commitment to patient safety the Minister established the Commission on Patient Safety and Quality Assurance last January. A key objective of the Commission is to develop clear and practical recommendations to ensure that quality and safety of care for patients is paramount within the health care system.

The Commission will develop proposals for ensuring responsibility amongst senior management and clinical leaders within the health system for performance in relation to quality and patient safety. The Commission will also be making recommendations on more effective reporting of adverse clinical events and complaints and a clearer role for patients and carers in feeding back on care received. In addition, it will consider a statutory system of licensing of public and private providers of health care.

The Commission is chaired by Dr Deirdre Madden BL, a leading expert on medical ethics and will report back to the Minister within 18 months.