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Trust running West Suffolk Hospital, in Bury St Edmunds, and Newmarket Community Hospital, working to lower C. difficile infection rates





A Suffolk hospital trust said cases of an infection which can cause sickness and diarrhoea remain higher than it would like, as it works to resume regular deep cleaning.

The infection rate of C. difficile was highlighted as a key issue at West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (WSFT). It is being tackled through a quality improvement plan, according to papers presented to its board.

The trust, which runs West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds, and Newmarket Community Hospital, said space issues – partly due to the faulty concrete and seasonal pressures – had led to challenges with regularly deep cleaning wards.

The entrance to West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds. Picture: Suffolk News
The entrance to West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds. Picture: Suffolk News

C. difficile is bacteria found in the gut and usually causes no harm, but can sometimes produce toxins resulting in illnesses such as diarrhoea and sickness.

A WSFT spokesman said: “The trust takes the safety of its patients extremely seriously and works incredibly hard to minimise the chance of picking up infections, such as C. difficile, while they are in our care.

“While the trust has seen no month-on-month increases in prevalence of this bacteria, it has remained higher than we would like.

RAAC at West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds. Picture: WSFT
RAAC at West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds. Picture: WSFT

“Each case of C. difficile infection is reviewed and any immediate learning is identified and addressed.

“However, in order to fully address this issue there is a quality improvement programme under way which is working through immediate actions and will also identify, and in time provide, long-term improvements.”

Latest Government data shows there were 12 cases of C. difficile at the trust in January, 14 in February, 12 in March and 10 in April.

The trust said nationally the NHS sees an increase in the prevalence of respiratory illnesses during winter, which requires isolation areas and side rooms for those patients to reduce further illnesses spreading.

It highlighted ongoing urgent and emergency care pressure and the RAAC estates maintenance programme.

During the winter period an additional seasonal pressure ward is opened.

As a result, space at West Suffolk Hospital continues to be pressured and the trust said it could not deep clean wards as regularly as it would like.

The trust said it was working to resume regularly scheduled deep cleans and was addressing other areas, such as increasing education and training around hand hygiene, the use of PPE and antibiotics.

The quality improvement programme will be scrutinised and overseen by the trust’s improvement committee.