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Hospital Healthcare Europe

Public inquiry into superbug deaths

17 October, 2008  

Sixty deaths in Northern Ireland hospitals linked to a superbug outbreak are to be the subject of a public inquiry.

The Clostridium difficile (C difficile) outbreak has badly affected public confidence in the safety and quality of healthcare, Stormont Health Minister, Michael McGimpsey has said.

The inquiry will look at cases in the northern area. The two main hospitals are Antrim Area and the Causeway.

Mr McGimpsey said: “Two important issues remain unanswered: firstly, how many people died as a result of the outbreak, and secondly, what were the experiences of patients and others who were directly affected by the outbreak?”

The minister said the Northern Trust appeared as well-prepared as any other trust in Northern Ireland to deal with an outbreak.

“However, the review also found that the trust did not have good systems in place to ensure that policies adopted by its board were being implemented and observed at ward level,” he said.

“For example, an antibiotic policy was in place, but there were problems with adherence to it.

“The report also points to issues with infection control systems and cleaning arrangements in the Northern Trust, significant level of patient transfers between hospitals and shortfalls in nursing and cleaning staff.”

Copyright PA Business 2008