June 30, 2008

Single Rooms Only to Beat NHS Superbugs

By Kate Foster

ALL new hospitals in Scotland are to be built with private rooms for every patient in a bid to halt the spread of deadly superbugs.

Traditional wards will be phased out to reduce the risks of patients catching potentially fatal hospital-acquired infections such as MRSA and Clostridium difficile.

The move follows an outbreak of C diff that caused the deaths of nine patients at the Vale of Leven Hospital and contributed to the deaths of nine more, while five babies in a special care unit in Paisley have tested positive for MRSA.

But experts warned last night that the single-room policy would increase the cost of building hospitals by around 10 per cent, as well as raising running costs. There is also a debate over whether private rooms will significantly cut infection rates.

The new building for the Southern General Hospital in Glasgow, which has more than 1,000 beds and is due to open in 2014, will contain private rooms only. Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon told Scotland on Sunday: "We are very keen to move to single wards."

Charles Saunders, chairman of the BMA's Scottish consultants committee, said: "Single-bed rooms are better for infection control, for patient privacy and [recovery]."

But Professor Allyson Pollock, head of the Centre for International Public Health Policy at the University of Edinburgh, said: "There is no strong research evidence that moving to single rooms is conducive to health and better outcomes or reducing the infection rate. Single rooms do not deal with hospital hygiene measures."

Andrew McLeman, a surveyor who has overseen large building projects, said a hospital with single rooms would cost around 10 per cent more to build.

"It would be a less efficient use of space, would need more land and more circulation room," he said.

(c) 2008 Scotland on Sunday. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.