Belfast Telegraph

C-diff findings demand action

Apologies from Health Minister Michael McGimpsey and the Northern Health and Social Care Trust to the families of 31 people who died from C Difficile infections in Trust hospitals are a very inadequate response to a horrifying outbreak which lasted 14 months.

A report into the outbreak made a number of swingeing criticisms of care systems within the Trust hospitals but, surprisingly, stopped short of blaming anyone for the obvious shortcomings. So ultimately 31 people died prematurely because of infection which could have been avoided and, officially, it is no one's fault. That is a bitter pill for the bereaved to swallow.

Indeed, the failure to apportion blame renders the report somewhat anaemic. This was after all a fundamental failure of management within the Trust, which could not even stock something as basic as an adequate supply of mops. The report highlights a number of failings including not telling patients that their loved ones were infected with the potentially lethal bug. Nurses were so hard pressed that they could not care for patients and clean medical equipment.

This report shows that basic rules to stop infection were not adhered to in these cases. The inquiry led to the failures of management being laid bare and while there are recommendations to prevent a recurrence of the outbreak, there is a nagging doubt it won't be taken seriously enough.

Considering the outcry that the management of Northern Ireland Water faced for failing to draft robust emergency plans to deal with its burst pipes crisis, there should be similar anger directed at management figures within the Health Trust. After all, in this case 31 people died. No one died because of the water shortage. How often in the past have we seen well-intentioned reports published and then their findings left to gather dust on the shelf. It must not happen in this case.

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