Patient safety representatives have praised the new health secretary's commitment to tackling hospital-acquired infections.

Alan Johnson last week announced£50m of extra funding to address the problem. Strategic health authority directors of nursing will each receive£5m.

Mr Johnson also announced that infection improvement teams will be doubled in size so any trust not on course to meet the 2008 MRSA target or with a significant number of patients with Clostridium difficile will have access to a team of experts.

National Patient Safety Agency chief executive Martin Fletcher said: 'This is excellent news for patients and for the NHS.

'The NPSA's Clean Your Hands campaign has already been successful in improving hand hygiene among staff, which is a key factor in reducing healthcare-associated infections - this increased resource will give frontline staff additional support to continue to reduce infection and provide clean, safe healthcare.'

A spokesperson for NHS Yorkshire and the Humber said: 'The extra funding announced by the health secretary is a welcome boost that will help frontline staff further improve performance and practice.

'The national infection control support team has helped five trusts in our region [to reduce] healthcare- associated infections.'