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Hospital outbreak inquiry resisted

28 November, 2008  

Health bosses are resisting ordering a public inquiry into a fatal outbreak of Clostridium difficile at a hospital in Scotland.

The country’s health secretary, Nicola Sturgeon, said that an immediate inquiry into the outbreak at the Vale of Leven Hospital in Alexandria, West Dunbartonshire, could risk prejudicing future criminal proceedings.

Relatives of the 18 patients who died from the infection have been campaigning for a public inquiry and last week called for Ms Sturgeon to quit after she refused to order an immediate probe.

The health secretary argued that other investigations into the outbreak are being carried out, adding that both Strathclyde Police and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) had committed “considerable resources” to their own inquiries.

In a letter to the victims’ families and to opposition parties, Ms Sturgeon stated: “I am sympathetic to the renewed calls that have been made for me to hold a public inquiry, but I am sure you will appreciate that while these investigations are ongoing there would be a risk of prejudice to any possible criminal proceedings if a public inquiry was ordered now.”

An independent review into the outbreak at the Vale of Leven Hospital was carried out this summer.

Copyright Press Association 2008

NHS Scotland