Published: 08/12/2005 Volume 115 No. 5985 Page 10

When you are being spoon-fed juicy 'evidence' of rampaging MRSA on hospital wards, it would be churlish to ask too many questions.

After all, it gives headline writers the chance to come up with beauties like 'The mop of death' amid claims that hospitals have a rate of MRSA that is up to 300 times greater than the 'acceptable' rate.

As identified by HSJ as long ago as September last year, the methods of the man who feeds hungry hacks their superbug slop have been called into question.

According to health minister Lord Warner, scientist Dr Christopher Malyszewicz, who runs Chemsol Consultancy, has been leading the media a merry dance.

Dr Malyszewicz, who is not qualified as a microbiologist and whose laboratory does not meet UK accreditation standards, uses methods which do not distinguish between harmless bacteria and MRSA, Lord Warner told the House of Lords last week.

He was responding to Labour's Baroness Pitkeathley, who said Dr Malyszewicz's laboratory 'appears to derive most of its income from selling disinfectants to combat MRSA, so might have a vested interest in achieving positive results'.

Lord Warner said it was 'disappointing' that test results for MRSA 'produced by unsound methods' were published without question. The coverage 'causes unnecessary public concern and wastes NHS resources, ' he said.

But despite government concerns, do not expect MRSA rates to drop out of the news just yet.

Dr Malyszewicz is not a member of a recognised professional body. Neither is he a registered healthcare scientist or medical doctor, Lord Warner explained.

'His laboratory is not accredited as a diagnostic laboratory. In those circumstances, he is not claiming to be any of the things for which we could take professional action against him.'