We all know at this stage that infection control is a big problem in Irish hospitals. Outbreaks of MRSA and many other dangerous infections are on the increase. Huge investment is now required in the health service to bring about radical change in the control of infection. Here is my list of things-to-do for Mary Harney now that she’s back (where she wants to be) as our Minister for Health. This is not rocket science. These are obvious changes that could be put in place if only the funding was made available.
1. Practice preventative medicine – provide mandatory testing for MRSA colonisation for all patients being admitted to hospital. The present system for testing nasal swabs takes too long for results to be processed (2-3 days). A faster, but more expensive testing mechanism is available and could be used for all patients being admitted through A&E.
2. Microbiology is a key component of infection control. Many more microbiology staff are required and lab facilities need to be urgently expanded and updated.
3. Improve basic hygiene practice by staff on the wards – provide alcohol gel dispensers beside every bed, more hand washing facilities needed for everyone, improve cleaning of equipment etc.
4. Reduce the bed occupancy rate to less than 80% – in Ireland it’s over 100% most of the time (is it any wonder the nurses are moaning about their job lot!) – more beds in public hospitals are needed now.
5. Provide proper isolation facilities for infected patients – it’s like a bad joke the way the situation is being managed at the moment.
6. Clean hospitals = cost-effective health care. Our hospitals are filthy! Stop the present practice of sub-contracting the cleaning of our hospitals to outside agencies. Each hospital needs to take back responsibility for it’s own state of affairs.
7. And please stop messing around with plans for a 2-tier health system and get working on a 1st class health system for everyone!