Tuesday, 26 April 2005

Cleaner Hospitals

At this election, Conservatives are taking a stand on the issues that matter. So today we are announcing extra resources to tackle the superbug in our hospitals.

Why Labour are all talk
Mr Blair promised to ‘save the NHS’ and provide cleaner hospitals: ‘for the first time, money set aside specifically to get rid of the dirty corridors’ (Labour Party Conference Speech, 26 Sept 2000). All talk.
• The reality is that 5,000 people die every year from hospital-acquired infections.
• The number of people who have died from the ‘superbug’ MRSA has more than doubled since 1997.
• Mr Blair’s Government insists that it has followed the ‘best scientific advice’ in dealing with MRSA and other health care associated infections (John Hutton, King’s Fund Breakfast, 7 April 05). All talk. They have made 23 announcements but done little else.
• Conservatives have identified 18 specific recommendations – from the Chief Medical Officer and from reports by independent committees – on which after 8 years in Government, Mr Blair has failed to act. These range from investing in more isolation facilities to reviewing and implementing new technologies to combat MRSA and other hospital-acquired superbugs.
A recent Nursing Times survey (8 March 2005) showed that:
• Nurses still do not have access to 24/7 cleaning.
• 40 per cent of nurses said they are not given the time to clean beds between patients.
Most patients do not receive accurate information on hospital-acquired infections. Some nurses said that they do not have access to alcohol-based hand gels and have had to re-use single use equipment.

Liberal Democrats
The Lib Dems have said they would scrap Whitehall targets but have no plans to combat hospital superbugs, only plans to raise taxes.
The Lib Dems have pledged to spend an extra £8 billion more than the Conservatives or Labour on the NHS which would mean further tax rises – regardless of the system they choose. As Andrew George has said, ‘Our slogan at the next election will be “Trust us, we will put your taxes up”’ (Radio 5 Live, Simon Mayo Show, 19 January 2005).

What will Conservatives do?
Conservatives believe in accountability. We believe that putting a Matron in charge will ensure that one person is clearly accountable for delivering a clean and safe environment, ward-by-ward, across the hospital. So we will ask each NHS Hospital Trust to meet 10 standards for cleaner hospitals in order to put Matron in charge and provide the powers and resources necessary to deliver high standards of cleanliness and infection control.
The Conservatives have a 10-point Action Plan which includes:
• Putting Matron in charge of making sure wards are clean.
Closing dirty wards.
• Giving patients more information about hospital infections.
This will be backed by extra resources. We will provide £52 million in each of the next two years to support NHS Trusts which undertake to meet these standards. This additional support for front-line services will be funded from within the £7 billion of NHS savings identified by the James Review.
Today we announce an important additional element of our strategy to save the NHS from the spread of MRSA.
£10 million will be made available for NHS Hospital Trusts to implement state-of-the-art technology which will help identify MRSA by nasal swab testing in a matter of hours as opposed to days.
This will be a crucial further step in eradicating MRSA from our hospitals and complements our plans announced so far. All of this forms part of a clear Conservative agenda to take a stand on the issues that matter.
Voters have a clear choice on 5 May: cleaner hospitals and shorter waiting lists with the Conservatives, or dirty hospitals and long waiting lists under Labour and the Liberal Democrats.
Promoted by Gavin Barwell on behalf of the Conservative Party, both at 25 Victoria Street, London, SW1H 0DL. Printed by the Conservative Party.

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