Warning over superbug epidemic due to staff shortages

Antibiotic Research UK has warned that overcrowded NHS hospitals with too few nurses are increasing the risk of bacteria outbreaks.

The charity has warned that the current high rates of bed occupancy at hospitals in the NHS made the spread of bacterial infections more likely, with staff shortages leaving nurses too busy to spot inadequate levels of cleanliness.

Noting the NHS’s recent commitment to reducing gram-negative infections by 50 per cent by 2021, the report says that much of the work of the start of the millennium to educate staff about the importance of cleanliness risks being undone in what is being deemed as ‘a dangerous round of cuts that are playing dice with patient safety’.

Colin Garner, chief executive of Antibiotic Research UK, said: “Even with the winter crisis and the recent cold snap subsiding, hospital trusts are reporting cases of bed-blocking and overlong stays,
and close proximity to other patients enables superbugs to attack. Patients are also being robbed of their best eyes and ears when it comes to cleanliness. A recent survey showed that nurses admit they are too busy to care for patients properly, and that could include not spotting poor examples of cleansing like empty hand sanitizers or dirty bed rails and equipment.

“There is evidence too that open drains and sinks are still being found in hospitals and I have even heard of cases where admin staff were being asked to help clean wards. This all adds up to a deadly cocktail which puts patient and visitor safety at mortal peril.”

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