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Bug scandal hospital chief “sorry”

The chairman of the hospital trust at the centre of a killer bug scandal has apologised “unreservedly” after resigning from his position.

James Lee, who led the board of the Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells Hospitals NHS Trust in Kent for five years, said he was “deeply saddened” by the “terrible events”.

The trust came in for heavy criticism last week in a damning report from the Healthcare Commission into outbreaks of the Clostridium difficile infection which claimed the lives of at least 21 patients – and probably 90 – between 2004 and 2006.

In a brief statement, Mr Lee said: “I am deeply saddened by these terrible events and take full responsibility for my part as chairman of the board for the past five years.

“I apologise unreservedly.”

Earlier, Health Secretary Alan Johnson told the House of Commons that Mr Lee had offered his resignation and he had accepted it.

Mr Johnson was summoned to the House of Commons to update MPs on events at the trust after shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley tabled an urgent question.

He told MPs the Healthcare Commission’s report was “a truly shocking document” and said he wanted to apologise on behalf of the Government and the NHS.

Mr Lee came in for criticism when it emerged that the trust’s former chief executive, Rose Gibb, who resigned days before the report’s publication, was offered a severance package worth a reported £250,000.

Mr Johnson ordered the trust to withhold the payment, pending legal advice.

Copyright © PA Business 2007

(Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells Hospitals NHS Trust)