Superbug concerns on patient safety

April 11th, 2008 - Pat Breen

Ennis General superbug report will raise further concerns on patient safety – Fine Gael

Responding to a report on 15 deaths at Ennis General Hospital involving the superbug, Clostridium difficile, Fine Gael has highlighted the problems of overcrowding and under-resourcing of infection control.

The Party’s Health Spokesman, Dr James Reilly TD, however, welcomed news that C.difficile would become a notifiable disease from May 4th, saying:

“Fine Gael has been calling for some time for C.diff to be made a notifiable disease and that is one welcome outcome of today’s report. My sympathy goes to the families of those who died; it is particularly hard to accept that your loved one was exposed to an infection while they were supposed to be under the protection of hospital care. For them and for the wider public this will further add to concerns about patient safety and, after a series of incidents, the Health Minister has a considerable task ahead in reassuring people that they are safe in the Irish health service.

“Sadly, the problems encountered in Ennis are reflected in other places around the country. Government under-funding and broken promises on public acute beds have left our hospital wards overcrowded, allowing cross-infection, making hygiene control difficult and isolation impossible.”

Fine Gael Clare Deputy Pat Breen said:

“The public in Clare must be reassured that Clostridium difficile is no longer a problem at the hospital and I expect the recommendations of this report to be acted on without delay. I commend the HSE’s improved handling of the patients and their families in keeping them informed although I know there is understandable anger at the fate which befell their loved ones and I offer them my support. I believe that, in this case, the presence of C.difficile was not identified quickly enough and this allowed time for cross-infection. The important thing is that this should not happen again and the Tánaiste Brian Cowen acknowledged my call for extra infrastructural resources for the hospital in the Dáil today.”

Fine Gael Clare Deputy Joe Carey said:

“I extend my sympathy and support to the families of those patients who died. Although the report published today will bring some clarity to the situation it will be little comfort to them on their loss. Ennis General has been neglected by Government for far too long. It is hard for the public, and in particular the elderly who are especially vulnerable to superbugs, to have confidence in their safety in hospital unless the appropriate resources are put in to allow proper hygiene and reduce overcrowding. I hope that the Health Minister will recognise this and ensure that the neglect of Ennis General is ended, that the Hospital is redeveloped without further delay and 24 hour acute services retained and developed into the future.”

ENDS