HEALTH chiefs have hit back at a “ridiculous” superbug target for the next financial year.

Bosses at the Royal Bolton Hospital, which failed its superbug target this year, have now been told it is okay to have more cases this year.

This is despite spending thousands of pounds trying to achieve a target that has now been changed.

Nursing staff at the Bolton NHS Foundation Trust have successfully driven down the number of C Difficile cases in the past year, albeit missing a the national target — set by NHS England — of a maximum of 28 over the financial year.

The Bolton trust finished the year with 37 cases — 27 fewer than the previous year.

Now NHS England has increased the target to 48 for 2013/14 based on a Department of Health formula.

Board members at the NHS Bolton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) public meeting on Friday expressed concern about the new figure.

Dr Stephen Liversedge, clinical director for primary care, said: “I don’t care what the Department of Health says, it’s ridiculous.

"It’s like they’re saying ‘Please get more cases than last year’.

“Why is that the target? We’re just sitting here and watching them change it.”

Wirin Bhatiani, chair of the board, added: “It’s a really important point. We have worked to hard to get those figures down and this seems to minimise all of that good work.”

The trust’s director of nursing, Trish Armstrong-Child, introduced a £290,000 plan to tackle superbugs contracted in the hospital and in community services.

The rate of infection has been dramatically reduced but Ms Armstrong-Child says she will not be happy until there are no cases.

She said: “We have reduced the number of cases of C Difficile cases in the last year but no matter what the formal target is, our aim will be to reduce the numbers further until we have no cases at all.”

For every case breaching the target, the trust is fined £50,000 by the Bolton CCG as part of a national contract.