Health minister John Denham has announced new standards on the management of hospital-acquired infections, such as the 'superbug' MRSA.

Trusts will be required to meet 15 standards for hospital-acquired infections, part of a wider framework to improve the NHS's handling of safety and security issues.

Progress will be assessed locally by auditors and nationally by the Commission for Health Improvement and the Audit Commission.

Among the new standards is a requirement on trusts to establish infection-control teams, made up of doctors, nurses and microbiologists.

The teams will be supervised by local infection-control committees, which will include the local health authority consultant in communicable disease control.

Areas also covered by the framework include emergency preparedness, transport, records management, and contracts and contractor control.

Despite being a significant expansion of the government's quality drive, Mr Denham suggested the framework would not be a burden. 'At the moment hospitals have to use a massive range of guidelines, circulars and sheer paperwork to assess how well they are doing in areas such as security, medical devices and readiness for emergencies, ' he said.

'We are replacing that with clear standards on a single CD-ROM.'