HOSPITAL bosses in Worcestershire have recorded the lowest ever number of MRSA cases with just three cases in a year.

Leaders at Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, which manages the Alexandra Hospital, recorded its lowest number of cases to date in 2011/12.

During the last year the trust identified just three patients with the infection in their blood where the infection developed in hospital compared with eight cases in 2010/11 and 33 in 2006/07.

Dr Anne Dyas, consultant microbiologist, said: “We understand that the risk of infection by superbugs such as MRSA is a very important issue for our patients.

“This is why we set ourselves the very highest standards and maintain a zero tolerance approach to infection.”

New national figures have revealed that the number of people dying due to MRSA bloodstream infections in hospitals has fallen by more than a quarter in the last year, to a 15-year low.

Locally, leaders say the decrease is down to a combination of a rigorous MRSA screening programme and numerous infection control initiatives.

MRSA screening for all eligible inpatients became mandatory for acute trusts in March last year.

In addition, rescreening of any patient who has remained in hospital longer than one month has been introduced.

This is monitored by a data clerk who receives a list of long-stay patients monthly, and reminds wards to rescreen.

Any patients found to be carrying MRSA, which can cause abscesses, boils and wound infections, are offered treatment.

Patients and visitors are encouraged to wash their hands regularly and use antibacterial hand-gel when visiting patient areas.

Doctors, nurses and other clinical staff who have direct contact with patients follow the ‘bare below the elbows’ guidance, including short or rolled up sleeves and no wristwatches or rings.