Crowded wards 'add to patient infection risks'

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Indy Lifestyle Online

Overcrowding of wards and staff shortages are contributing to a worldwide boom in hospital infections that are putting patients at risk, researchers say.

One in 10 patients admitted to hospital in Britain acquires an infection and the threat from MRSA and Clostridium difficile is the direct result of efforts to reduce beds and increase efficiency, the analysts report in The Lancet Infectious Diseases. In England, the number of hospital beds has been cut by more than 25 per cent since 1981, from more than 200,000 to fewer than 140,000, but patient numbers have soared.

The researchers, from the University of Queensland, Australia, say 71 per cent of NHS trusts exceeded the Government's target bed occupancy rate of 82 per cent.

Andrew Lansley, the Tory health spokesman, said: "Labour ... has failed to take even the most basic action to improve hospital accommodation and patients are living with the consequences."