Thursday, September 18, 2008

MRSA Spin Kicks Off Labour Conference Hype

The Labour Party conference hasn't begun but the spinning and hype has. Today's offering is a pathetic attempt to cover Brown's and health secretary, Alan Johnson's back, over MRSA. 

The announcement that hospitals are getting to grips with MRSA is designed to get them of the hook, after the disasterous £50m gimmick of the hospital 'deep clean' that never was trumpeted at the beginning of the year. 

Brown has got in on the act saying what a "tremendous achievement" it all is.

In the world of hospital targets, nothing is what it seems. The managers have learnt how to play the game. Just move the goalposts a bit and everything looks good. Introduce a few gimmicks and brush it under the bed.

Of course the overall rate has fallen - the way MRSA is reported has been fiddled with, to make it look better than it really is. 

And even the positive spin could not hide the fact that in England, from April to June 2008 there were 836 cases reported. Why start at April? Why not February or March? Or were the reported cases too bad to be included.

And what hospital really wants to admit that its wards are still filthy and people are more ill when they leave hospital than when they go in? 

Not surprisingly, the figure announced are just for MRSA. They don't include C.difficile. Those figures won't be out until - after the Party conference. 

Where's the routine screening for everyone, before they are admitted on to a ward? Where's the bank of single-bed isolation rooms, for anyone suspected of carrying the bugs? Where is the army of dedicated non-contract cleaners, on a decent wage, needed to keep this in check? 

Hospital staff are trying to tackle an embedded problem with few resources and only hard work and dedication. 

Instead we just get a few hospital managers massaging the figures because they're worried about their jobs. And a government happy to go along with it.

Expect more of this spin in the days ahead and treat it all with a pinch of salt.

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