New figures show there has been a sharp rise in the number of deaths linked to the hospital-associated infection Clostridium difficile.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the number of death certificates in England and Wales which mentioned C difficile increased from 3,757 in 2005, to 6,480 in 2006.
The 72% jump has been attacked by critics who claim the Government’s infection control strategy is not working.
And patient body the National Concern for Health Care Infections said the problem may in fact be much worse.
Chairman Graham Tanner said: “Each one of those figures represents a person and each one of those figures represents a family deprived of a lost one.”
But the Department of Health’s Chief Microbiologist, Professor Brian Duerden, said: “The chief medical officer wrote to the NHS in July 2005 to make clear that we wanted infections such as MRSA and C difficile to be reported more accurately on death certificates.
“These statistics from 2006 show that this move has worked and our figures are now in line with other developed countries.”
He continued: “Since 2006 we have taken significant steps to tackle infections.
“These include stringent hand-washing guidance for the NHS, a bare-below-the-elbows dress code, putting matrons back in charge of cleanliness on their wards and an ongoing deep clean of every ward. Now MRSA and C difficile infections are falling.”
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