Birmingham's Selly Oak Hospital is swapping steel for copper in an 18-month trial to test the findings. 80% of hospital MRSA transmission is believed to come from contact with surfaces such as door handles, bathroom taps, toilet flush handles and grab rails. To test the theory one general medical ward is having copper installed in preparation for the trial while a similar ward will retain its traditional fittings. Even pens used by staff will be made from copper alloy. Copper reacts with the bacteria and inhibits respiration - the Egyptians may have used copper thousands of years ago to treat infections.