Managers have admitted several patients were “failed” after they contracted a superbug while being treated at Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
But officials have also defended their handling of infection controls in response to questions over the rising numbers of cases.
The measures being taken to combat the C difficile bacteria were raised during a meeting of the trust’s governors’ council on Tuesday afternoon.
One of its members, Peter Clery, said cases of the bug had reached their highest level in 2014-15, 39, since the hospital achieved foundation status and were on course to be even higher this year.
He asked: “Who is responsible for infection control in this hospital?”
Dr Ian Hosein, the trust’s director of infection control, told the meeting that five or six patients had contracted the bug within the hospital.
He admitted: “We failed on that. Did we slip on that? Yes we did.”
He said problems had been identified with the cleaning of commodes during an independent review in October and staff had been reminded of the required standards of cleanliness.
But Dr Hosein also pointed to a rising trend in the number of cases of the bug in the wider community as a reason for the increases.
He said the problem was growing in areas like West Norfolk with a large elderly population.
He said: “If you check every nursing home in King’s Lynn, you will find people with C Difficile. If you have this bug, you carry it for life.”
He also echoed the concerns of several council members about the impact of the centralisation of laboratory testing services at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital on the QEH.
He said several patients who were found to have the bug had been carrying it when they were first admitted to the hospital, but were not initially tested as they were not believed to have it.
He said: “We have no way of checking whether a sample has been received at Norwich.”
But, while he accepted the concerns over sample testing, Mr Clery suggested that staff should be challenged about cleaning standards.
He said: “It’s about basic hygiene, the sort of thing that has been known for generations.”