Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Back to Cardiff

Back in the National Assembly tomorrow morning - at least back to the fourth floor to do some work for the BBC. I'm a guest on AM/PM, a programme that goes out between 11.30 and 1.00. I've done it before. We look at the papers, comment on PMQs and cover some other issues.

Tomorrow's papers will inevitably cover Ming's reappearance in public. It will be easy for me to speak well of Ming Campbell, who has always impressed me as a decent grown up politician - a bit out of his time. And there is also a touch of sympathetic empathy with a man who recovered from cancer five years ago to continue his political career. There could also be a bit about the Northern Rock debacle. I would like there to be something about the most horrific story of the last week, which has been the incredible incompetence (and worse) which happened in the Clostridium difficile outbreak in the Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Hospital Trust in Kent.

PMQs are bound to be focused on the refusal of Gordon Brown to hold the promised referendum on the EU Treaty. Even his own side should be behind Cameron on this. And I've been told that we might be discussing something about the use of agency nurses. As always I'm looking forward to it - my thespian streak coming out again.

While in Cardiff, I'm hoping to meet up with my old right hand man Phill for a coffee - if Darren Millar , his current employer can spare him. And I want to meet Brynle Williams, our 'Rural' spokesman to discuss the current disaster enveloping the sheep industry - and what pressure we can bring to bear on making the current export rules more workable. My life has been redirected from the National Assembly since May - but I daresay I'll feel a bit homesick tomorrow.


Dr. Christopher Wood (avatar: "Farscape") said...

Getting Microbiologists back into the game ...

Isn’t it time to think outside the box and get Microbiologists to work with construction and plant engineers? Sound daft to you? Read on …

That Microbiology has been treated as a Cinderella science for far too long is evidenced by recent headlines about hospital ‘superbugs’ such as Clostridium difficile. The consequences of treating Microbiology as a dark art best ignored are all too clear to see – just look at our hospitals.

The use of the term “superbug” is inappropriate and is used to give cover to negligent behaviour which belongs at the door of government (or more accurately, lack thereof). This species of Clostridium being a case point. Clostridium difficile is NOT a superbug. This species is only a problem in environments strangely and stupidly abused by negligent staff and/or designed to suit the spread of C. difficile spores.

There is a history of civil engineers and building designers who design industrial plant and buildings perversely designed to boost otherwise avoidable microbiological issues. The government should consider funding courses teaching basic microbiology to engineers, this is actually done in some progressive universities. Former Lancashire Polytechnic run basic microbiology lab classes for engineers, and microbiology students spent some of their time studying basic engineering issues in the engineering faculty.

It is clear as a cloudless day that hospital wards and their ancillary facilities need to be designed from a microbiological angle to make “life hard” for any kind of microflora to survive in problematic numbers. It’s not hard to do if architects, civil engineers, plant engineers and Microbiologists work together. Law makers should work to boost such interactions.

But it’s a funny weird kind of world. Scientists with single honours degrees in Microbiology are gems, but often find it hard to get decent paying work and end up ‘parked’ in bakeries, building societies, and insurance firms. That Microbiologists often times find themselves so parked stems from government thinking, and more accurately: lack thereof.

Glyn Davies said...

Good comment Christopher. Let's hope hospital designers and health service managers start to think the same way. The Maidstone case was so incredibly awful that more attention will now be paid to this issue.