Intended for healthcare professionals

Observations Body Politic

Fools rush in?

BMJ 2009; 338 doi: (Published 15 April 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;338:b1533
  1. Nigel Hawkes, freelance journalist
  1. nigel.hawkes1{at}

    Nigel Hawkes is sceptical of panicked health initiatives that scream “do something—anything”

    Initiatives designed to get ministers off the hook should always be scrutinised with a beady eye. They look good, they sound good, but do they do you good? All too often, given the political pressures to do something, what is done is ill considered, untrialled, expensive, ineffective, or all four.

    So it may be with the programme to cut hospital acquired infections, which is being driven from number 10 Downing Street. The UK prime minister first ordered a “deep clean” of hospitals, an initiative that played well with the public even if infection control specialists were less convinced. He followed up with a promise to screen every elective patient for meticillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) before admission to hospital, with £130m (€140; $190) to get the programme launched at the beginning of this month.

    If MRSA screening is so self evidently a good thing, it is puzzling that the National Health Service in Wales and Scotland has so far declined to adopt it. So has the independent sector in England. The extremely low level of MRSA bloodstream infections in private hospitals suggests …

    View Full Text

    Log in

    Log in through your institution


    * For online subscription