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Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust praised for improvements after Clostridium difficile (C.diff) outbreak

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Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust, whose hospitals experienced an outbreak of Clostridium difficile (C. diff) that killed an estimated 90 people, has been praised for its progress tackling infection control.

An investigation in 2007 by the government’s healthcare regulator, the Healthcare Commission, called for a range of changes at the hospitals because of serious breaches of the government’s hygiene code.

However the number of cases of C. diff at the trust now fallen from 50 per 1,000 bed days at the peak of the outbreak in January-March 2006 to less than 10 per 1,000 bed days in April to June 2008.

Improvements include a restructured board, new clinical governance and a new infection control team led by a new director of infection prevention and control, according to a new inspection by the commission.

Better standards of cleaning and infection control in areas such as hand hygiene and new wash basins have also contributed to the improvement.

However the commission added that improvements still needed to be made, including hiring more nursing staff and better complaints procedures.

The commission’s head of investigations, Nigel Ellis, said: ‘This is a very different trust to the one we investigated in 2007.’

Peter Carter, general secretary of the RCN, added: ‘After the horrendous outbreak of Clostridium difficile in 2007, it was so important to get managers in place who understand that you can’t cut corners when it comes to hospital cleanliness.’

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