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Backing for superbug deaths inquiry

Stormont Assembly members have supported a call for a full public inquiry into an outbreak of Clostridium difficile (C difficile) which has been linked to the deaths of 41 patients in Northern Ireland.

Health minister Michael McGimpsey has already hinted he could launch an independent probe into the outbreak of the pathogen in the Northern Trust area hospitals, but only after a review by the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) has been completed.

However, MLAs have backed a motion from the minister’s scrutiny committee that a separate public inquiry should begin as a matter of urgency.

Health committee chair Iris Robinson said only a rigorous independent investigation of the outbreak will ease public fears.

“The committee unanimously feels strongly that such a (RQIA) review is not sufficient to get to the bottom of this outbreak and restore public confidence,” she said.

“The committee, after hearing from trust chief executives and (the department’s) chief medical officer, unanimously called for a full public inquiry.

“The committee unanimously believe that such an inquiry need not be a long drawn out affair that costs the earth, it must be given concise terms of reference and a strict time limit.”

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