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Rising hospital bed occupancy and rising superbugs

Dr Charles Saunders, deputy chair of the British Medical Association Scotland, recognizes that Scotland has made progress fighting hospital acquired infections, but flags the threat rising bed occupancy now poses:

"There is pretty good evidence that once you get high bed occupancy rates then it is very difficult to stop a lot of HAI. Part of that is because you don't have time to get things properly cleaned and partly it is because once you get to those high rates, you tend to move people around hospitals a lot. So they get admitted to one ward and maybe go through three or four different wards in the next few days. If they have anything when they come in, they have an opportunity to spread it quite widely and they also obviously increase the opportunity they have to pick up stuff by being in different wards."

Yet, Scotland has more than twice as many hospital beds per capita compared with Ontario.  -- Ontario has one of the highest hospital bed occupancies in the developed world.  

Dr. Saunders also warned financial constraints on health boards could have an impact on tackling the superbug problem in the coming years.

"Pressure on budgets is probably going to put more stress on hospital systems in terms of turnover and pushing more people through perhaps than can be done so safely. I think we are likely to maintain where we have got to, but it will make continuing improvements more difficult." 
Austerity, however, is not just threatening Scottish hospitals -- it is also threatening Ontario's.


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