HEALTH bosses are facing questions after it was revealed a fourth person died in last year’s legionnaires’ outbreak, with the revelation only emerging ahead of a major report.
The 64-year-old woman died on July 15 last year, but the fact has only emerged now – angering victims who have labelled it “a whitewash”.
Politicians are calling for “immediate answers” to explain why it has taken 12 months for details to emerge.
Investigations into what caused the deadly outbreak in Gorgie are still ongoing but a report on how it was handled by health experts is due before NHS Lothian’s health board next week. It is understood details of the newly emerged fatality are outlined in the dossier.
MSP Margo MacDonald said it was a worrying development. She said: “I think anyone reading this will be very concerned because either this lady was misdiagnosed or else her death was covered up because it was from legionnaires’. If there is another explanation, the board need to give it very quickly because this is not good enough. People deserve answers, in particular those who have suffered because of this disease.”
Three men aged 56, 47 and 65 died following the outbreak in May last year which is linked to a cloud of vapour from a cooling tower. A total of 56 people have now been confirmed as having contracted the disease, with a further 36 suspected cases, bringing the total number of people affected to 92.
One sufferer, Gordon Erasmuson, said the bombshell was “typical of the whitewash”.
The 60-year-old, who has developed tuberculosis he believes was caused by the disease, said: “It has been a cover-up from the start so I suppose we shouldn’t be shocked by this news. I don’t think they want to get to the bottom of this, I don’t think they want to blame anyone so it’ll continue to be a whitewash. One thing is certain, they don’t care about the victims.”
The fourth death will be included in the ongoing investigation by the police and the Health and Safety Executive on behalf of the Crown Office.
A spokeswoman for NHS Lothian confirmed it would form part of the report.