Pledges to cut MRSA infections in half have been broken at six West Midlands hospital trusts, including those responsible for Heartlands, Good Hope and the Queen Elizabeth Hospitals in Birmingham.
But the trusts have significantly cut the number of cases, figures show.
The 50 per cent figure was set by John Reid, former Health Secretary, when he was in charge of hospitals in 2004.
He made a high-profile commitment to halve MRSA in four years, when concern over infections was it its peak following hundreds of deaths. The deadline has passed, without any formal recognition by the Department of Health.
Official figures show a number of hospital trusts have failed.
They include University Hospital Birmingham, which runs the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Edgbaston. It recorded 123 cases in 2004 and 77 this year – a reduction of 38 per cent.
Other Midland hospital trust results included:
- Dudley Group of Hospitals NHS Trust recorded 31 cases in 2003/04 and 20 this year
- George Eliot Hospital in Coventry recorded 25 cases in 2004 and 15 this year
- the trusts responsible for Heartlands and Good Hope Hospitals in Birmingham and Solihull Hospital in Solihull recorded a total of 132 cases in 2004 – but Heart of England NHS Trust, which runs all three, recorded 92 cases this year
- Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals, which runs City Hospital in Birmingham and Sandwell General Hospital in West Bromwich, recorded 82 cases in 2004 and 46 this year.
The figures were published by the Health Protection Agency.
Liberal Democrat health spokesman Norman Lamb said: “Now the deadline for its own MRSA target has passed, the Government might think the pressure is off. But it’s not off for the NHS. These figures show ministers’ claims of success were premature.”
He added: “The vast majority of NHS trusts achieved real improvements in infection rates over the last few years and deserve praise. However, this only highlights ministers have failed to implement best practice, and makes it all the more unacceptable when poor management or poor practices result in high infection rates.”
But Birmingham MP Gisela Stuart (Lab Edgbaston) said: “Birmingham hospitals have reduced figures significantly, not least University Hospital Birmingham.
“If anyone has evidence hospitals are not doing all they can they should produce it. But the reality is MRSA cannot be eliminated, however hard hospitals work.
“To stoke fear of hospital infection in the interest of party politics is quite questionable.”
Making the promise in 2004, Dr Reid said: “We were the first Government to introduce and publish figures on the compulsory monitoring of healthcare associated infections, hospital by hospital so we could measure MRSA infections. With that in mind, it is time to go even further. I expect MRSA bloodstream infection rates to be halved in hospitals by 2008. NHS Acute Trusts will be tasked with achieving a year on year reduction up to and beyond March.”
This year, the regional health authority said cases of MRSA had fallen to a record low.