July 14, 2008

Sturgeon Accused of Complacency Over Deaths Caused By C Difficile


HEALTH secretary Nicola Sturgeon was last night accused of complacency after it emerged that the Clostridium difficile bug was a factor in the deaths of 24 patients in one of Scotland's smallest health board areas over a 12-month period.

Figures for NHS Ayrshire and Arran show there were 24 deaths where C diff was recorded as either the primary or contributory cause between April 2007 and March this year. In total, there were 658 cases of the bug in the health board area between June 2007 and May this year.

The revelation comes after an outbreak of the bug at the Vale of Leven Hospital in Alexandria, West Dunbartonshire, which has affected more than 50 people and killed nine patients since the start of the year. And it emerged yesterday that inspectors at the Alexandria hospital found more than 140 hygiene failures.

A leaked report showed infection control experts found soiled commodes, a lack of hand basins and broken floors at the hospital.

On Friday it emerged that one patient died and six were affected during an outbreak of C diff at Glasgow's Victoria Infirmary in June this year.

Details of the Ayrshire figures were revealed by Ms Sturgeon in response to parliamentary questions from Labour MSP Irene Oldfather.

She branded the scale of the problem "staggering" and said the situation in Ayrshire and Arran was "frightening and unacceptable".

Ms Oldfather said: "These latest figures demonstrate Nicola Sturgeon has been far too complacent in her response to the situation. She has finally acted in Vale of Leven, although many questions remain unanswered in that case. An average of two deaths a month from C difficile in Ayrshire and Arran is both frightening and unacceptable."

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said Ms Sturgeon has made her concerns about infections in hospitals well known.

The spokeswoman said: "The Cabinet secretary for health and wellbeing has repeatedly made clear her serious concerns about infections in Scotland's hospitals. This is why we are investing GBP 54 million over the next three years to tackle healthcare associated infections - a 260 per cent increase on the previous administration's funding."

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