Pressure mounts on Labour MSP after NHS infections blunder

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By G.A.Ponsonby

Labour’s health spokesperson Jackie Baillie is facing increased calls to apologise after claiming Scottish hospitals were at the top of European infection league tables.

Pressure has increased on the MSP for Dumbarton after it emerged that data underpinning her attack on the Scottish NHS was in fact gathered when Labour were last in power.

By G.A.Ponsonby

Labour’s health spokesperson Jackie Baillie is facing increased calls to apologise after claiming Scottish hospitals were at the top of European infection league tables.

Pressure has increased on the MSP for Dumbarton after it emerged that data underpinning her attack on the Scottish NHS was in fact gathered when Labour were last in power.

A press release issued by Ms Baillie claimed that the figures showed that Scotland was now the “superbug capital of Europe”.

According to the press release, research from the Scottish Parliament Information Centre showed that Scotland has the highest rate of bugs in Europe, hitting 9.5 per cent.

Ms Baillie is quoted saying: “Being the superbug capital of Europe is an accolade no country wants.

“These figures show that, despite recent progress, the SNP government still has a long way to go in the battle against healthcare-associated infections.

“Sadly, almost everybody knows someone who has contracted a healthcare-associated infection, like C.diff or MRSA.

“We must aspire to deliver the cleanest hospitals and the lowest levels of hospital-acquired infections in the whole of Europe – not the highest.”

However, as exclusively revealed by Newsnet Scotland yesterday, the data was in fact collated in 2005/6, at a time when Labour were in power at Holyrood.

Ms Baillie’s attack featured prominently on BBC Scotland and was published by the Scotsman newspaper.

In its article the newspaper did not feature any challenge from the Scottish government, whilst the BBC ran the story until yesterday early evening, complete with a recorded statement from Ms Baillie, despite the erroneous nature of the data on which the claims were based being in the public domain.

Today the SNP have hit back by repeating their demands for a full apology from the Labour MSP.

SNP MSP Bob Doris said that Labour’s attack was “disrespectful” to Scottish health workers who have worked hard to reduce infection rates.  Official statistics show that since 2007 the rates of C.diff and MRSA have fallen by 70 per cent.

The MSP for Glasgow and deputy convener of the Scottish Parliament’s Health Committee said:

“This blunder by Jackie Baillie in using these out-dated figures only goes to highlight Labour’s miserable legacy in this field.

“And it is completely disrespectful to our health professionals in Scotland who have worked hard to reduce cases of C.diff and MRSA by 70%.

“Instead of issuing negative and misleading comments, Jackie Baillie and the rest of the Labour Party should be praising the progress made by Scotland’s NHS workforce in the battle against healthcare associated infections.

“While the Labour Party fear-monger, the SNP Government knows there is no room for complacency and has invested more than £50 million funding over the past three years to tackle healthcare associated infections.”

Official statistics released in October last year showed that cases of MRSA and MSSA were at their lowest level since records began.

Cases of MRSA had fallen by over 75.8 per cent compared with the same period in 2007 and was now at the lowest level since surveillance began in 2005.

The figures also showed that the number of MRSA cases were also at the lowest level since surveillance began in 2005.

Clostridium difficile infections were at the second lowest number of cases since surveillance began in 2006 – the previous quarter being the lowest.

Newsnet Scotland has contacted Jackie Baillie offering to publish, in full, any response she may wish to make to claims that her attacks are based on data collated when her own party were last in power.