Belfast Telegraph

Death bug inquiry vow by experts

Independent experts brought in to probe outbreaks of a deadly bug that killed four babies in Northern Ireland hospitals have pledged to fully investigate the emergency.

The review panel from the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) also invited parents of the young victims of the pseudomonas bacteria to meet and tell them their experiences.

The investigation was ordered by Stormont Health minister Edwin Poots after separate outbreaks claimed the lives of one newborn at Altnagelvin Hospital in Londonderry in December and three at the Royal Jubilee Maternity Hospital in Belfast last month.

Mr Poots has expressed concern that health trusts may not have acted quickly enough to prevent the outbreaks of the deadly infection.

Chair of the RQIA panel Professor Pat Troop, a former chief executive of the Health Protection Agency, confirmed the make-up of her team on Monday and their terms of reference after a meeting with the minister.

The team includes specialists with expertise in neonatal care, microbiology and medical engineering as well as a number of lay reviewers from charities that offer support to families when a baby dies or when an infant is born prematurely.

"On behalf of the independent review team I wish to extend my sincere sympathy to all those affected." said Prof Troop.

"We will investigate fully the circumstances contributing to the infection, and examine the effectiveness of the management and response of the health and social care organisations involved.

"We are extending an invitation to meet the families of the babies who died, and others affected by these incidents, as it is of utmost importance that we learn from their experiences."

Since the four deaths, traces of the infection were also detected in four other neo-natal units across Northern Ireland. In all six hospitals where the bacteria has been detected, taps and water systems were the source.

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