Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells trust has been praised for the progress it has made on tackling infection control - but has been warned it should not relax.

The Healthcare Commission made a series of visits to the trust in October and November - a year after its critical report into a series of deaths from C difficile at the trust.

In its report, published last week, it said the trust had made "substantial improvements" and "huge strides".

Head of investigations Nigel Ellis said: "The substantial progress the trust has made to improve the prevention and control of infection is commendable.

"It is clear that infection control is now a top priority for the trust."

But he warned that "now is not the time for the trust to relax". The trust still needed to recruit more nurses, and learn from complaints and incidents.

Clear improvements

However, problems with decontamination of endoscopy equipment had been addressed between the commission's visits in October and November.

The trust was praised for its restructured board which now looks at infection control regularly, improvements in its infection control team, general cleanliness and for C difficile now being treated as a diagnosis in its own right.

The report said the trust now had some of the best infection rates in the country.

Trust chief executive Glenn Douglas said: "This very positive report, one year on from the original devastating report into the C difficile outbreaks at Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells, demonstrates well how much progress we have made in the past year in every area of weakness identified at that time."

New chairman

The trust also has a new chair - Anthony Jones - who took over from interim chair George Jenkins this month.

The salary for a chair was raised to£44,000 from£23,000 after two unsuccessful attempts to recruit earlier last year.

Mr Jones, 64, is a former director of human resources at Jaguar and had been the trust's vice chair since last August and a non-executive director since last March. The last permanent chair, James Lee, left shortly after the publication of the Healthcare Commission's critical report in October 2007.

The Health Protection Agency has also recently given the trust a£160,000 grant to carry out research into the diagnosis and treatment of C difficile.