FEEDBACK

Graham Harries, chief executive, CHKS I was encouraged to read your story on the Department of Health toolkit to help trusts hit MRSA targets (news, page 12, 9 June).

As trusts battle against not only the infection levels but the media hype and public misperceptions that surround them, they need to be making strides to banish MRSA and other healthcare-acquired infections while demonstrating these efforts to the public.

Poor and inaccurate measurement of MRSA is hindering the quest to control it and is doing little to reinstate the public's confidence.

But by identifying the incidence and distribution of infection at individual patient level, and reviewing the care process against published standards for infection control and hospital cleaning, hospitals can get a better view of the source of infections and manage them in a more controlled and effective way.

The DoH's toolkit is a hugely positive step in exercising greater control over MRSA, but the complexities which come with data on infection control mean most hospitals require additional advice.

One of the key problems is that acute trusts possess a wide range of information systems in infection control and have many ways of measuring infections. Data is reported centrally but the feedback to hospitals is often neither timely nor in a helpful format.

In order to measure and manage MRSA in a comprehensive way, hospitals must link, at patient level, the data held about the infection by the infection control department with the admitted patient dataset held by every hospital's patient administration system.

Through a combination of DoHled initiatives, specialist benchmarking and a genuine focus on reducing infection levels in hospitals, MRSA can be better measured, managed and reduced.

Only through demonstrating these efforts will public confidence, over time, be reinstated.