HPA publishes annual report 2005, UK
Presenting the report, chief executive of the Agency, Professor Pat Troop said:
?The Agency has faced significant health protection challenges during the past year from floods to emergency planning and avian flu to antibiotic resistance. One challenge that stands out is the increasing concern about the risk of an influenza pandemic. Preparing for this has involved the whole organisation, working with the NHS, government and other partner organisations, both in the UK and internationally.
?All of these situations demonstrated the value of the integrated service that is now the Health Protection Agency.?
One of the major areas of focus over the last year has been healthcare associated infection. The Agency has continued to collate the mandatory methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) surveillance scheme for the Department of Health. This enables Trusts to monitor the success of their interventions against the spread of infections. Also, the HPA has established a ?rapid review panel? on behalf of the Department of Health. This panel has assessed over 80 new products aimed at improving cleaning and hygiene in hospitals.
Alongside the work on healthcare associated infections, the Agency is also very closely monitoring trends in antibiotic resistance. Commenting on this area of work, Sir William Stewart, Chairman of the Agency said:
?Antibiotic resistance is an ongoing threat but it is not new. The bugs are cleverer than we are. They grow, multiply and mutate more quickly than we can deal with them. Antibiotics, though still hugely important, are no longer the saviours that they were thought to be in the 1950s.
Over-use by both the medical and veterinary professions has contributed to the appearance of novel antibiotic resistant bacteria in the community and in hospitals.
?The worrying trend is that viruses that are resistant to antivirals are beginning to emerge. To a microbiologist this may be unsurprising but it is worryingly reminiscent of the development of antibiotic resistant bacteria over 50 years ago. The fight against microbial diversity is endless. The Agency will be publishing a report later this autumn detailing these findings.
?Our success in this area involves understanding the nature of resistance - which other species of bacteria are becoming resistant, how they are becoming resistant, and to what extent they are spreading, and how.?
Other changes to the Agency detailed in this year\'s report include the Health Protection Act coming into force 1 April 2005, establishing a wider scope for the HPA as a Non-Departmental Public Body, and incorporating the National Radiological Protection Board into the HPA\'s Centre for Radiation, Chemical and Environmental Hazards.
The report highlights performance achievements during the past year, from the frontline fight against diseases to strengthening the UK \'s preparedness to respond to health emergencies, such as:
* We have provided training for a large number of frontline staff. Over 100 NHS staff have completed the foundation module of an Emergency Planning Liaison Officers\' course, run jointly with the Cabinet Office\'s Emergency Planning College , and 3,350 general practitioners (GPs) have completed an incident management module training module
* In an average month, our Local and Regional Services staff dealt with 210 significant incidents or outbreaks, in addition to routine public health work responding to individual cases of communicable disease, which average 9,100 cases per month
* Agency staff played a part in the relief effort when three rivers in Carlisle burst their banks in January 2005, flooding 2,500 homes and leaving 70,000 people in North Cumbria without power. The ?surge capacity? inherent in the new health protection arrangements meant that a rapid response was quickly established
* This year, the HPA bid successfully for funding for a variety of research projects including a share of ?32 million from the European Commission for the largest ever tuberculosis (TB) initiative
* We developed and published integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) guidance for the NHS to provide specialist advice to primary care trusts (PCTs). This directive is the first of its kind in Europe , and makes a clear link between environmental pollution and public health, ensuring all sources of pollution are assessed. By the end of 2007, an estimated 6,500 applications will have been received under the IPPC Directive
1. The Health Protection Agency Annual Report and Accounts for 2005 can be found on our official website at hpa.org.uk/annualreport2005
2. The HPA corporate plan report can be found on the HPA official website at: hpa.org.uk/hpa/pubications/corporateplan2004
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