Hospital suffers deadly superbug outbreak four days after spending ?300,000 on deep cleaning wards
Last updated at 17:39pm on 7th April 2008

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Hospital ward

A hospital in Chester suffered an outbreak of a deadly superbug after it spent more than ?300,000 to deep clean its wards.

The Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust was forced to close wards to control the Clostridium difficile bug, which has infected 26 people so far.

Hospital bosses have ordered all affected areas to be bleached immediately to stop the bug from spreading further.

Dr Virginia Clough, medical director and director of infection prevention and control at the trust in Chester, said: 'Infection control procedures are in place and the position is now stable.

'We are working closely with the Health Protection Agency and Western Cheshire PCT to control the outbreak and return to normal as soon as possible.'

C. difficile is a germ that is naturally present in the gut of many healthy people but can cause diarrhoea, sometimes with abdominal pain and vomiting. In very rare cases, it can be fatal.

A spokesman for the hospital said: 'The cause of the outbreak and subsequent variation in case numbers is down to an unusually large number of patients being admitted to the hospital with C.Diff.

'All patients are being treated and the hospital is coping well.'

The latest outbreak was detected on March 28 and there has been a reported total of 26 cases ? but it has continued since then.

On April 2, the number of cases was reduced to 17 but over the next few days, it increased again to 20.

Other infected patients are being isolated in side rooms on other wards.

Extra cleaning has been introduced in affected areas, including bleaching three times a day, while strict hand hygiene for staff and visitors is being enforced in all wards.

The Trust annually spends more than ?2million on cleaning; an additional ?325,000 was invested for the recent deep clean initiative.

New cleaning staff were employed to ensure the deep clean was successfully completed on time.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced plans last September for every NHS hospital to be scrubbed in a bid to tackle bugs like MRSA and C. difficile.

Health Secretary Alan Johnson said earlier this year he expected all 1,500 hospitals in England to have deep cleaning finished by the end of March ? although more than one in 10 failed to meet the deadline.