The Wye Valley NHS Trust is celebrating five years without a case of hospital-acquired MRSA bacteraemia (blood stream) infection in its hospitals - making it the top performing NHS Trust in England.

The achievement has been acknowledged by Jeremy Hunt, the Secretary of State for Health, who visited the Trust recently to meet staff and talk about patient safety.

During discussions he was informed that the Trust had just clocked up five years without a case of hospital-acquired MRSA and heard about the improvements the Trust is making to patient safety.

In a letter sent to the Trust following his visit, the Secretary of State for Health says he was impressed with the MRSA performance which “brought home to me the fantastic progress made to make the NHS safer for patients,” and suggested the Trust share it’s best practice with other NHS Trusts.

Speaking after the visit, Consultant Microbiologist Alison Johnson said it was encouraging to hear the words of praise from Jeremy Hunt and added that the Trust had a “zero tolerance approach” to healthcare associated infections and that the Trust’s success was down to staff members’ commitment to providing first class patient care.

“Reducing MRSA bacteraemia is a national target across the NHS. Infection control is very important to us and this Trust now has the best record on this in England,” added Alison.

“There are many reasons for this good record - we have a strict cleaning, hygiene and hand-washing regimes, a robust antibiotic prescribing policy and ongoing screening of all people that we admit to hospital.”

The Trust has recently launched a major awareness campaign to remind staff, patients and visitors about the importance of hand washing.

Lucy Flanagan, the Trust’s Director of Nursing and Quality, said: “Patient safety is our priority and we do all we can to ensure that none of them suffers from an avoidable infection.

“Our staff members continue to play a vital role in reducing hospital-acquired infections and are encouraged to challenge each other if they feel proper infection control processes are not being followed.

“Our current clean-hands awareness campaign also encourages patients and visitors to challenge us if they feel we are not adhering to the high standards we expect from our staff.

“To achieve five years MRSA free is a great achievement, but the challenge remains and we’re not resting on our laurels. We will continue to be vigilant and on our guard to keep hospital acquired infections at bay here at the Trust,” added Lucy.