Western Sussex Hospitals have joined up with Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals to form a new NHS Foundation Trust for our area: University Hospitals Sussex.

You can keep using this website for information about St Richard’s, Worthing and Southlands hospitals but for our other sites and to find out more about the new trust please visit www.uhsussex.nhs.uk.

C.diff and MRSA

C.difficile and MRSA are the primary drug-resistant infections Western Sussex Hospitals staff are focused on protecting their patients from.



Sometimes known as ‘C.diff’, Clostridium difficile is a bug that causes diarrhoea of varying severity, most usually after a course of antibiotics.

People who are already weak or frail can sometimes become seriously ill as a result of contracting it.

How is C.diff spread?

When the normal bacteria in our gut has been disturbed – typically by a course of antibiotics – if C.difficile gets in there it can grow and produce toxins that harm the lining of the cut, causing diarrhoea.

C.diff survives in the environment, including in dust and on surfaces, and can be transmitted to patients from here or from peoples’ hands.

What is the treatment for C.diff-associated diarrhoea?

If possible, stopping the antibiotics and being given a 10-day course of a different antibiotic to kill the Clostridium difficile itself.

How can you avoid catching C. difficile associated diarrhoea?

Alcohol gel does not remove C.diff from our hands so it is doubly important to wash with warm, soapy water before and after contact with an infected patient, before eating and after going to the toilet.

Healthy people have a very low risk of catching Clostridium difficile.


Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a common bacterium (germ/bug) that three in every 10 of us carry naturally in their nose, skin and other areas of the body.

MRSA stands for Meticillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus, which is a variant of this bacterium.

Bacteria carried naturally in this way is called colonisation and does not normally require treatment.

However, if you are coming into hospital you may require a treatment called decolonisation, which reduces the risk of this bacterium spreading. Please speak to your nursing staff if you need further information after admission.


Western Sussex Hospitals are compliant with Department of Health MRSA elective and emergency admissions screening policy, meaning we test all patients coming in to the Trust to check if they are carrying MRSA bacteria so we can tailor their treatment accordingly.

How is MRSA spread?

MRSA can be spread via touch and from the environment.

The bug likes to get around by hitching lifts, most often on hands, which is why we ask all visitors and staff to wash their hands before entering the hospital or a ward by using the alcohol gel dispensers you will pass on your way in.

How can you help stop the spread of MRSA?

We need good standards of cleanliness and hygiene from everyone in the hospital – staff members, patients and visitors – to limit the spread of MRSA.

Alcohol hand rub is available outside every ward and bay; by each bed and at the main entrances of the hospital. This is for the use of all staff; patients and visitors.


Was this information helpful? YesNo

How can we make this page better: