Care Quality Commission infections warning for care homes

Poor communication between hospitals and care homes in England may be putting people at risk of MRSA and other infections, the regulator says.

The Care Quality Commission found nearly a fifth of homes were not being told if patients discharged from hospitals are or had been infected.

Even when they were told, the data was sometimes incomplete or illegible, the survey of more than 1,000 homes showed.

It comes as MRSA and Clostridium difficile rates are falling.

Latest figures show that MRSA levels in hospitals – they are not measured in care homes – have fallen by 40% in the past year.

It means they are now a quarter of what they were during the peak months of 2004.

C difficile figures have also been falling.

But the CQC report said the progress being made could be compromised by communication problems.

Hospitals are meant to include infection history on discharge summaries.

However, the survey revealed 17% of care homes said they did not receive information from hospitals, while another 28% complained of incomplete and ineligible data.


The regulator also highlighted poor practice by care homes – a quarter were not following guidelines covering issues such as isolating residents with infections and antibiotic management.

It said care homes had until next year to follow the guidelines or face being refused registration.

CQC chief executive Cynthia Bower said: “Infection prevention and control is not simply an issue for hospitals – care needs to be clean and safe wherever it is provided.

“If we are to tackle infections effectively we need to check that all providers of care are talking to each other.”

Health minister Mike O’Brien said while there had been good progress on infections, he agreed closer working was needed.

“People have the right to the same standards of clean, safe care whether in health or social care.”

A separate CQC report also criticised the way patient information was being used.

The regulator said it had concerns about privacy – a third of staff said they had not been given training on confidentiality – while delays in hospitals sending GPs information after discharge were also noted.