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Charity calls for MRSA screening of NHS staff

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A charity that promotes awareness about MRSA has called for all NHS staff to be screened for the healthcare-associated infection

Derek Butler, chair of MRSA Action UK, said the UK should adopt the Dutch ‘search and destroy’ method to eradicate MRSA, which involves screening healthcare staff and decolonising those who test positive.

‘Staff should be screened regularly and if they are colonised with the infection they should be taken off duty until they are clear,’ he said.

But Martin Kiernan, president of the Infection Prevention Society, rejected the idea. ‘There is no evidence to support blanket screening of staff. As long as NHS staff follow good clinical infection control practices they should pose no risk to patients,’ he said.

The comments follow figures revealed last week in parliament by health minister Ann Keen, which estimate that more than 66,000 NHS clinical staff are colonised with MRSA – between 3% and 5% of the workforce.

From 31 March all NHS elective patients must be screened for MRSA, which will be expanded to include emergency admissions from 2010.

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