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New motion passed allows hospital inspectors to close wards

Posted in: Medical Negligence 

Following investigations into the Clostridium difficile (C. Diff) outbreak at the Vale of Leven Hospital in late 2007 to 2008, a motion has been put before Holyrood that allows hospital inspectors to close wards to new patients. The regulation will come into practice from April of next year if approved by MSPs. Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS) inspectors would only use the powers as a “last resort” according to Health Secretary Shona Robison.

The review of care at Vale of Leven Hospital in West Dunbartonshire highlighted that C. Diff was a contributory factor in the deaths of 34 out of 143 who tested positive for the infection.

“badly let down” patients

C. Diff is a bacterium that can be spread through airborne spores and lack of hygiene. It often occurs following a course of antibiotics and can cause diarrhoea in vulnerable people. The enquiry at the Vale of Leven was delayed five times and cost just under £10 million.

Leading the enquiry, Lord MacLean, said that the NHS of Greater Glasgow and Clyde had “badly let down” patients. The report highlighted problems such as poor leadership among NHS GGC managers, with junior doctors having too much responsibility at the hospital. He found that antibiotics were sometimes inappropriately prescribed and found there to be “significant deficiencies” in infection prevention and control practices. 

Lord MacLean went on to make 75 recommendations on improvements to be implemented within the NHS GGC.  These included improving infection prevention and control measures, improvements to medical care and nursing, antibiotic prescribing, communication with patients and relatives and death certification.

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