Scottish health secretary Nicola Sturgeon (pictured) has unveiled details of a £54m initiative to tackle hospital infections in the country.
As part of the three-year plan, a pilot screening programme for the MRSA bug will be launched next year, ahead of a national programme in 2009.
And a facility for testing Clostridium difficile, has been set up at Glasgow’s Stobhill Hospital.
Health officials said this means samples will no longer have to be sent to the UK laboratory in Wales, which will reduce the time taken for particular strains of the bug to be identified.
In other moves, trained staff will visit wards more frequently for “hand hygiene audits” to check how often staff wash their hands.
And the body which monitors hospital cleanliness standards, Health Facilities Scotland, is to identify areas where the standards can be toughened up.
The moves were announced by Ms Sturgeon in a speech in Clydebank to senior NHS staff.
The pilot MRSA screening programme will see all patients tested for the bug before operations or being admitted to wards, with those carrying MRSA isolated to help reduce infection.
Ms Sturgeon said the Scottish government placed “vital” importance on tackling hospital infections.
“We should recognise that good progress has been made in reducing hospital infections, but more needs to be done,” she said.
“Patients and the public can expect the measures I am announcing will make a real difference.”
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