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Trusts must screen for E coli from June

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Hospitals will be required to monitor and report E coli infections from June in a bid to drive down the rising number of cases, the Department of Health has announced.

The move follows the introduction of mandatory surveillance for MSSA (meticillin sensitive Staphylococcus aureus) infections in January this year and follows the previous introduction of screening for MRSA.

The DH said it was the latest part of a “zero tolerance” approach to healthcare associated infections.

Data collected by trusts on a voluntary basis shows the number of E coli infections is rising year on year, said a letter to trusts from chief medical officer Sally Davies and NHS deputy chief executive David Flory.

The introduction of mandatory surveillance will help establish the cause of the increase and the extent to which infections are linked to healthcare, the letter said.

It stated: “The availability of a more comprehensive picture of the scale of E coli infections, nationally and locally, will also support patients in making meaningful choices about their healthcare.”

The DH said it was working with the Health Protection Agency to develop guidance.

E coli data will initially be published monthly at the same time as data for MRSA, C difficile and MSSA.

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