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CPE emergency designation ‘continues’ — DoH

The official national public health emergency on carbapenemase-producing Enterobacteriaceae (CPE) “continues”, according to the Department of Health (DoH). The Department has raised the ending of the emergency in discussions with the HSE. In April, Minister for Health Simon Harris told the Medical Independent (MI) “the ending of the emergency shouldn’t be in any way viewed as an acceptance by the Department that the issue has been resolved”.

In May, Prof Martin Cormican, who leads the HSE’s antimicrobial resistance and infection control team, informed the CPE expert group at the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) it was anticipated the Minister would decide to declare the public health emergency over. “However, there is no confirmation of this and no clear indication of the time frame,” according to the minutes.

HPSC data shows there were 537 patients newly confirmed with CPE in 2018, compared with 433 in 2017. Monthly screens in acute hospitals have increased from 13,062 in June 2018 to 24,676 in June 2019. The Department’s spokesperson told MI several key actions regarding antimicrobial resistance and healthcare associated infections, including CPE, have been accomplished.

“These include an improved HSE governance structure for healthcare-associated infections and antimicrobial resistance, enhanced capacity for infection prevention and control teams, publication of a suite of CPE guidance overseen by the CPE Expert Group, and enhanced surveillance of CPE with a report published monthly.”

In April 2019, Minister Harris announced that €7 million had been allocated for antimicrobial resistance and infection prevention and control in acute hospitals and community care settings. This included €2 million allocated in 2018. The Department’s CPE national public health emergency team has met twice so far in 2019. It was convened after the emergency was declared in October 2017.

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