Superbug Increase Sparks Warning

A superbug could cause “huge problems” for the NHS, a Nottinghamshire coroner has warned. Nigel Chapman said the infection clostridium difficile (C Diff) had been a contributory factor in 12 deaths in Nottingham hospitals in the past month.

He said the rise of the superbug, which causes severe diarrhoea and can lead to death in the elderly and vulnerable, could become a national problem.

In November three Nottingham wards were closed over C Diff outbreak fears. C Diff was linked to the deaths of nine patients at Nottingham’s Queen’s Medical Centre and a further three at the City Hospital in four weeks over November and December.

Dr Chapman stressed C Diff was not the ultimate cause of death in the majority of cases but said he was worried by the rises in cases. “In the last year, I only had one or two deaths reported where C Diff was mentioned. In the last month, I have dealt with more than 12 cases. If I had to hold inquests into all of these cases, I could not deal with it.

“Imagine if this is a national trend – C Diff could be becoming a huge problem,” Dr Chapman said. “Whether (the increase in reports) is because the doctors are reporting it more or finding it more, my point is I am trying to raise awareness that this is not something small scale,” he added.

Earlier in December, Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt said hospital trusts would be able to bid for up to £300,000 each from a £50m fund to help combat C Diff which kills three times as many people as MRSA.

C Diff is usually spread on the hands of healthcare staff and other people who come into contact with infected patients or contaminated surfaces such as floors, bedpans and toilets.