All patients at a Birmingham hospital trust are to be tested for MRSA before they even get on the ward.

Sandwell and West Birmingham Trust, which runs City, Sandwell and Rowley Regis hospitals, has developed a rapid test for the dangerous bacteria.

Trained healthcare assistants will test all patients expected to stay in one of the hospitals for more than 24 hours while they are waiting in the assessment units before being transferred to a ward.

Bosses say all patients testing positive will be isolated as soon as possible.

Sandwell and West Birmingham Trust has come a long way over the past two years since the government sent special advisers in to tackle its problem with hospital-acquired infection rates.

The trust had no cases of MRSA in November and only nine cases of MRSA since April, which is a third less than at the same time a year ago.

Testing patients for MRSA in the assessment units was introduced this month at City Hospital, in Winson Green, and Sandwell General Hospital.