The number of C difficile deaths in England and Wales fell last year after hospitals took steps to cut instances of so-called “superbug” infections.

The number of deaths where C difficile was named as a factor on a death certificate reduced to 2,704 - a 31 per cent fall - between 2009 and 2010, according to data from the Office for National Statistics.

The figure has been cut by 67.5 per cent from the one in 2007, when there were 8,324 cases where the bug was recorded as the underlying cause of death.

Hospital workers and other people who come into contact with those who have the infection are usually responsible for the spread of the disease on their hands. But health chiefs have taken measures to reduce the infection risk by implementing an improved hygiene regime and more stringent procedures such as better antibiotic prescribing and isolating infected patients.

Health minister Anne Milton welcomed the news but added: “We have been absolutely clear that the NHS should take a zero tolerance approach to all avoidable healthcare-associated infections and there should be further improvements.”