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C. difficile drive

NHS executives are pushing for the introduction of tough new policies on GP prescribing of antibiotics to help stem the rise of Clostridium difficile in the community.

A meeting hosted by Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt heard how one hospital had cut its rate of C. difficile from three to 1.75 per 1,000 after clamping down on antibiotic use.

David Nicholson, NHS chief executive, urged PEC chairs to establish whether the strategies adopted at the Homerton University Hospital in Hackney, east London, could be implemented by GPs.

The hospital introduced a 'restrictive antibiotic policy' that excluded use of cephalosporins and quinolones.

Mr Nicholson said: This is particularly relevant as many people will be considering their C. difficile targets as part of local delivery plans.'

In January the Health Protection Agency reported community C. difficile infections had risen 5.5 per in England in the first three quarters of 2006 compared with the same period the year before – to 42,625 cases in patients aged 65 and over.

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