New 'war on superbugs' announced as infections rise

Jeremy Hunt has announced a new war on superbugs, after figures show they are growing in number and becoming increasingly resistant to treatment.

Deadly strains like MRSA and C.diff have reduced significantly in the last decade, but cases of E.coli are rising - it killed more than 5,500 people last year in England alone.

The Health Secretary said there would be a renewed focus on better infection prevention and control in hospitals, surgeries, and care homes, to stop the spread of bacteria.

The war would highlight better hygiene standards by hand washing, and improved hygiene when using inserted devices, like catheters.

If not managed responsibly by health care workers, these can result in E. coli infections.

E. coli infections have risen hugely in England. Credit: Reuters

E.coli infections are expected to cost the NHS more than £2bn by 2018.

The government also plans to appoint a new infection lead, Dr Ruth May, and a stricter inspection regime for hospitals.

For the first time, E. coli rates will be published and displayed in wards, visible to all patients and visitors, as MRSA and C. difficule rates are displayed.

The NHS will also publish prescription data so commissioners and patients can see which trusts are incorrectly prescribing antibiotics.

Mr Hunt said: "Taken together, these measures are intended to achieve a dramatic reduction in hospital infections, reducing enormous human pain and suffering in the process.

"They will make us better at knowing when to use antibiotics and better at knowing when not to use them."