Brown orders hospital deep clean against superbugs

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LONDON, Sep 22 (Reuters) Prime Minister Gordon Brown has ordered a deep clean of every hospital in Britain to tackle hospital ''superbugs'', he told the News of the World.

Every hospital will be disinfected and scrubbed clean over the next year, the prime minister wrote in an article for the Sunday newspaper which was made available ahead of time.

The National Health Service is currently being plagued by deadly infections such as Clostridium difficile, or C.Diff, and MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, which are resistant to treatment with most available antiobiotics.

''A ward at a time, walls, ceilings, fittings and ventilation shafts will be disinfected and scrubbed clean,'' Brown wrote.

A recent report found British hospitals were among the worst in Europe for superbugs, behind poorer European Union members in the ex-communist East like Slovakia and Poland.

Britain has also scored lower than other European countries in studies on survival rates for cancer and stroke victims, despite spending far more in many cases on treatment.

Figures show that C.Diff was a factor in more than 3,800 deaths across the country while MRSA contributed to 1,650 deaths caused by hospital-acquired infections.

The bacterium, commonly transmitted while patients are in the hospital, most often affects those with weak immune systems and the elderly.

Brown also said new measures would be introduced to allow patients to see GPs out of hours and at weekends. He said access would also be improved, whether it be NHS walk-in centres or GP surgeries in high-street stores like Boots or Tesco.

Screening for breast and colon cancer will be widened to include more people and test results for cervical cancer screenings will be issued within 14 days, Brown said, without specifying when the changes would take place.

''Over the past few months, I've been around the country visiting hospitals, GP surgeries and health centres. I've learned from what people have told me and I've heard the need for change,'' Brown wrote.

REUTERS GT RK2335

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