Return to Victorian-style hospitals to fight superbugs experts urge

Return to Victorian-style hospitals to fight superbugs experts urge

Modern wards must be redesigned to prevent the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Wards in British hospitals need to be redesigned to provide defences against the spread of deadly, antibiotic-resistant superbugs. That is the stark warning of scientists, who said last week that the danger now posed by drug-resistant infections had reached crisis level.

In the long term, governments must encourage the pharmaceuticals industry to develop new generations of antibiotics, said a group of British experts. However, these new drugs will take so long to reach the market that short-term measures must also be introduced to hold back resistant diseases that now threatens to overwhelm health professionals.

A group  of senior scientists – including Dame Sally Davies, the chief medical officer, and Professor Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust – told the Royal Society last week that the planet faced the prospect of people dying from routine infections because effective antibiotics no longer existed.

Changes to be made to hospital wards should, they said, include greater distances between beds, lower bed occupancy rates, improved staff-patient ratios and large, openable windows.

“We are talking about returning hospital wards to the type we had 100 years ago,” said microbiologist Professor Kevin Kerr, of Hull York Medical School.

The crucial point of such “old school” measures is to buy time, added fellow microbiologist Professor Mark Fielder, of Kingston University in Surrey: “We need to hold back the spread of resistant bacteria while finding ways to persuade pharmaceuticals [companies] to improve their output of new generations of antibiotics – for we are facing a future in which there might be no effective antibiotics left on the planet.”

Robin McKie

The Observer, 


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