SOUTHAMPTON is among only 50 hospital trusts in the country to have "deep cleaned" to try to prevent superbug infections, the Daily Echo can reveal.

Bosses at Southampton General implemented the blitz, the biggest ever clean-up of its kind, in September last year.

The deep-clean was done ward by ward and saw every surface swept, including ceilings, behind beds and radiators, and inside ventilation ducts and light fittings.

A Government minister revealed that nationally only 50 hospitals have carried out the super cleaning treatment.

All 50 wards at the Tremona Road site were de-cluttered in the mass cleaning operation which began on September 17.

The drive, in which all wards remained open, was already under way before the Labour Party Conference, when Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced plans for every hospital in the country to receive a ward-by-ward deep clean.

Southampton General Hospital's cleaning blitz has continued into the new year. As part of the process the general intensive care unit underwent specialist treatment, which involved intensive steam-cleaning using chemicals and specialist equipment.

However, it did not stop wards being closed due to the outbreak of norovirus, which is sweeping the country and affecting 200,000 people a week. Five wards, for medicine and the elderly were closed following the virus outbreak, although two reopened yesterday afternoon.

A spokesman said that Southampton University Hospitals NHS Trust had put infection control even higher on its agenda with the investment of £300,000 for cleaning.

A cleaning hotline where patients, staff and visitors can report any fault, flood or problem area has also been introduced, with a rapid response cleaning squad available to be sent to any area of the hospital with urgent infection risks.