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Falklands : Falklands PUBLIC MEETING MONDAY, 18 MARCH 2013
Submitted by Falkland Islands News Network (Juanita Brock) 23.03.2013 (Article Archived on 20.04.2013)

A public meeting was held in the Court and Assembly Chamber of the Town hall on Monday, 18 March 2013 at 1700hrs. Present were MLAs Short (Chair) Edwards, Elsby, Cheek and Sawle. MLAs Summers, Halford and Hansen are away.


By J. Brock (FINN)

A public meeting was held in the Court and Assembly Chamber of the Town hall on Monday, 18 March 2013 at 1700hrs.  Present were MLAs Short (Chair) Edwards, Elsby, Cheek and Sawle.  MLAs Summers, Halford and Hansen are away.


Before reading out Questions by Derek Howatt, the Hon Mr Gavin Short gave his thanks to the public for how the referendum was handled.  He mentioned especially the excellent carnival atmosphere and it couldn’t be better and said it was a credit to our country.


There was discussion about how the number of questions submitted by Derek Howatt would be handled.  Some may be dealt with at another public meeting and others could be published. 


Dr Barry Elsby Elsby helped with some of the medical termination in the answer to the next question


Question No 1 By Ging Davis:


I was somewhat concerned when the hospital was recently decorated.  Not in any way am I criticising the workmanship, which I thought was excellent.  My criticism is that the emulsion is porous, if I am correct.  Likewise, the ceiling tiles on the suspended ceiling are also very porous.  Knowing there is a problem with germs such as MRSA and C-Difficile, do the Medical Department think that was the right course?  Wouldn’t it have been better to have gloss or, in case of the ceiling, some type of fireproof laminate for hygiene? 


GS:  I am grateful for the reply we got from the Hospital, which goes as follows: 


We are grateful for the acknowledgement of the excellent workmanship associated with the programme of on-going decoration and maintenance of the KEMH.


In answering the question it should be noted that corridors and waiting areas are not classified as clinical areas and therefore there has been no requirement for the use of anti-microbial paint in these areas.  In addition to this the extra cost which almost certainly have been associated with using such materials, there is no evidence that the current decorative surfaces host and support the growth of these germs. 


However, there is more plausible evidence that soft furnishings, clothing, poor personal hygiene and general lack of awareness can help the spread of such germs.  To this end there are efforts being made to replace such furnishings with wipe able non porous equivalents, replace carpeted areas with vinyl flooring, re-introduce a dress code for clinical staff, provide alco-gel at wash stations for visitors had health care workers and appropriate instructions where possible. 


Of course, we have no control over what happens in the home so that any measures taken in the hospital is limited to the hospital but relevant information and support is readily available to the public.


Regarding the ceiling tiles, we agree that they are not ideal.  They do collect dust and therefore we can presume potentially harmful organisms and a wipe-all version would be more pleasing throughout the hospital.  But the tiles are unavoidable due to the structural design of the hospital, as they provide both insulation and fire protection.


Again, there is no evidence to suggest that we have a particular issue with MRSA or similar outbreaks from the use of this type of false ceiling.  There is a wipe able anti-bacterial version that is available that seems to be surprisingly similar in cost to the textured ones we have in place so it would be our intention to replace them the next time an upgrade takes place.  However, we still have a large stock of textured tiles to use and the current evidence does not support the need to discard what we have in stock for the smoother option.


From time to time the hospital does come under pressure from carriers of the well-known MRSA bacteria and its variants. But policies and procedures are in place to counter-act these inevitabilities.  And to date the hospital has not had any outbreak that we have not managed to control within a relatively short time. 


Question No 2 by Ging Davis:


Some years ago just before I came to the Islands I was watching a “horizon” programme on Russian experiments with a substance called Phage.  My memory is vague about the TV programme but I would like to know how far the Russians got with their experiments with these types of antibiotics.  The Russians were warning us 30 years ago that antibiotics would be useless in years to come.  It seems to me listening to what’s being said today of the ineffectiveness of antibiotics.  Could Councillors inquire with the UK Antibiotics manufacturers – BSK and Seniser – how far they have progressed down this path?


And the answer came bouncing back:


A bacterial phage is a virus that infects and replicates within the bacteria essentially destroying it.  The Phage therapy mentioned in the question refers to the therapeutic use of bacteria phages to treat pathogenic bacterial infections.  It is correct this type of therapy was developed in the USSR over 90 years ago and today there are few countries using this type of therapy, mainly in Eastern Europe and very small usage is seen in France.


Phage therapy is not currently used in the United Kingdom because of the lack of Animal research and clinical evidence being available for this type of treatment of bacterial infections. 


Also, until recently, we were lucky enough to have pharmaceutical antibiotics that were effective in destroying pathogenic bacteria.  With careful and correct use of antibiotic treatment we will continue to have the safe method of treatment available to us for some while longer.


However, with the rise of multi drug resistant bacteria the use of bacteria phages has hit the headlines again.  It is correct to say that certain pharmaceutical companies are once again investigating in this area of research.  It would be practically impossible to enquire how successful certain drug companies have been in their research in this area mainly because any success in this field would be a very closely guarded secret. As it would or potentially could open up a multi-trillion pound market. 


The early data so far in this field so far looks promising.  However, it would seem that all drug companies involved in this area of research are quite a long way from being at the point of this treatment hitting the market for human use.



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