Shona Robison issues apology over 34 C.diff deaths

Shona Robison has issued a 'sincere and profound' apology after an outbreak of C.diff claimed 34 lives. Picture: PA
Shona Robison has issued a 'sincere and profound' apology after an outbreak of C.diff claimed 34 lives. Picture: PA
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NEW health secretary Shona Robison yesterday promised to ensure there would be no repeat of the Vale of Leven C.diff outbreak linked to the loss of 34 lives.

In a statement to Holyrood, Ms Robison said the NHS had failed the victims and their families and apologised on behalf of the Scottish Government.

During an emotional session, Jackie Baillie, the Dumbarton Labour MSP who has worked with the victims’ families, broke down as she paid tribute to their dignity and determination.

An inquiry was set up in 2009 to investigate the treatment of patients at the hospital in West Dunbartonshire. It revealed Clostridium difficile was a factor in the death of 34 out of 143 patients who had tested positive for the infection at the hospital during the period 1 January, 2007, to 31 December, 2008.

Inquiry chairman Lord MacLean said the true figure could be higher still as medical records were not available for all the patients who died during the period.

He found “serious personal and systemic failures”, stating that patients at the hospital had been “badly let down” by people at different levels of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.

Ms Robison said the government accepted all 75 of Lord MacLean’s recommendations.

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She said many of the recommendations have been completed, or are already under way, and an implementation group will be set up to ensure the remainder are put in place.

Ms Robison said a national healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) taskforce was in place to improve and reduce HAIs.

In 2009 an inspection process was established to undertake unannounced inspections while a “robust system” enabling health boards to recognise and manage outbreaks as they happen, closing wards if required, has also been established.

Ms Baillie, who was involved in the families’ campaign to have a public inquiry, fought back tears as she praised their “determination” and “dignity”.

Ms Baillie said: “It has been seven years since the first deaths at the Vale, five years for the public inquiry to report and I welcome the robust recommendations.

“The cost of the inquiry is in excess of £10 million but the offer of compensation to the families, the victims of all of this, is about £1m.

“Although the families are solely motivated by the desire

to ensure that this doesn’t happen to anybody else in Scotland, I cannot help but feel that justice has not yet been done.”

She called on Ms Robison to outline what action could be taken to ensure the level of compensation is reviewed.

The cabinet secretary said: “These are very sensitive discussions but I have made very clear to the health board that I would expect them to be as helpful as they possibly can in their discussions with the families as they go forward.”

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