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'War on superbugs' announced by Government

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Improvements to the fitness to practice process aim to reduce stress for doctors going through investigations

The Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has announced a new war on superbugs, following a rise in their number and their growing resistance to antibiotics. 

Superbug strains like MRSA and C.diff have reduced in the last decade, but cases of E.coli  are rising in England, killing more than 5,500 people last year.  According to BBC health correspondent, Robert Pigott, there were 40,000 cases of E. coli in England last year - an increase of 20% in five years, and with one in three E.coli infections now resistant to antibiotics, the cost of treating the bug is estimated to be £3,000-£6,000 per patient.

There is to be a revived focus on improving hygiene by hand-washing, and better hygiene standards for patients with inserted devices such as catheters.  Such patients are at risk of infections if the catheter is incorrectly inserted or not changed regularly enough.

E.coli rates will, for the first time, have to be published and displayed in wards.  Mr Hunt has said that it will lessen the "enormous human pain and suffering" caused by superbugs.

The government also plans to include the appointment of a new national infection lead, Dr Ruth May, and a stricter inspection regime for hospitals.

The NHS will also publish prescription data so that commissioners and patients can identify which trusts are rightly prescribing antibiotics.

Mr Hunt commented that "taken together, these measures are intended to achieve a dramatic reduction in hospital infections, reducing enormous human pain and suffering in the process.

"They will make us better at knowing when to use antibiotics and better at knowing when not to use them."