THE Royal Bolton Hospital is still failing to meet its target for controlling superbug infections.

A panel set up to review every case of clostridium difficile (C difficile) at the hospital has found that the majority were “unavoidable”.

Acting chief executive Dr Jackie Bene, speaking at Bolton NHS Foundation Trust’s council of governors meeting, said: “We have a cleaning programme addressing C difficile and we are doing everything we should be, but we are seeing cases increase.

“Other organisations are suffering with C difficile and 12 trusts across the North West have breached their target.

“We are seeing a lot of C difficile in the community.”

Specific figures for the number of infections were not given at the meeting.

Now cases are being analysed by staff at the hospital so medics, including GPs and community health workers as well as staff at the hospital, can understand the issue. Bosses say work is being carried out to minimise the risk of patients having C difficile, including reviewing antibiotic prescriptions across Bolton to make sure policies are consistent.

Staff are also sharing infection prevention and control messages with patients, visitors and employees.

Health protection specialist Graham Munslow agreed that C difficile, which can cause severe diarrhoea, was a region-wide problem.

He said: “Where there are areas of deprivation, there are high numbers of people going to their GP and high use of antibiotics.

“Antibiotics are frequently necessary to treat infection but can result in higher incidence of C difficile.” Bolton NHS Foundation Trust could be fined as much as £4.5 million for failing to keep the infections below planned levels.

But Bolton Clinical Commissioning Group, which will issue the fine, has said it will impose a maximum of £2.7 million.

The fine is a national requirement and will be implemented at the end of the financial year.

Cllr Andy Morgan, who sits on Bolton Council’s health, overview and scrutiny committee, said: “I am not surprised the hospital is failing to reach the target for C difficile but they have obviously made massive strides to get it under control.”