Wednesday, 30 July 2008

331 one to blame

The hospital trust at the centre of Britain's worst recorded hospital superbug outbreak which led to the death of 331 patients has escaped prosecution.

Clostridium difficile contributed to the deaths of the patients over two-and-a-half years at three Kent hospitals a health watchdog report found.

Appalling standards of care, crowded wards, financial problems, a shortage of nurses and poor hygiene all led to the outbreak the Healthcare Commission found in a highly critical report in October.

However after studying that report, Kent Police and the Health and Safety Executive said there would be no charges over the deaths at hospitals run by the Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Hospital Trust.

Assistant Chief Constable Allyn Thomas said: "Whilst the report makes for grim and at times distressing reading, our review has not identified any information that would indicate a need or duty to conduct a criminal investigation into the Trust at this time."

Relatives of those who died in the outbreak reacted angrily to the announcement.

Steve Stroud, whose 77-year-old stepmother Doreen Ford died in Maidstone Hospital said he was "disgusted" by the decision.

Mr Stroud, husband of former Bucks Fizz singer Cheryl Baker, said: "This is disgusting. Someone has got to be held to account over all these deaths and if it is not the hospital trust, then who the hell can it be?

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