Glasgow & West Scotland

C.diff inquiry told patient was 'stinking' before dying

Vale of leven hospital
Image caption A total of 18 patients died at Vale of Leven Hospital

A probe into Scotland's worst Clostridium difficile (C.diff) outbreak has heard how a woman was left "stinking" before dying in hospital.

Michelle Stewart told the Vale of Leven Inquiry in Glasgow that the hospital was unable to give basic personal care to her mother-in-law, Sarah McGinty.

A total of 55 patients developed C.diff and 18 died at the Vale of Leven between December 2007 and June 2008.

C.diff was blamed for nine deaths and was a contributory factor in nine more.

The inquiry, chaired by retired judge Lord MacLean, heard testimonies at the Community Central Halls in Maryhill.

Ms Stewart, who was instrumental in setting up the patients and relatives' C.diff Justice Group, told the inquiry that Mrs McGinty told her family they would not want her because she was "stinking" of faeces.

She went on to describe how on one occasion she went out to ask the nurses to change her mother-in- law and heard her "physically screaming".

She added that she and her family would find food matter on Mrs McGinty's face and would remove it with wipes.

Ms Stewart also said she would take her mother's laundry home to wash it regularly after she developed diarrhoea.

She said: "I would take it out of the bag and wash the excess toilet off it and put it in the wash."

Ms Stewart added that the level of care towards her mother in law didn't change following her diagnosis with C.diff on 25 January 2008 and before her death on 1 February 2008.

'Closure' wanted

She said: "We never had any word on hygiene or what precautions to take. The level of care she got before she got C.diff until after she got C.diff remained the same."

Summing up, Ms Stewart said the C.diff Justice Group had been campaigning for two years to find answers to the outbreak.

She said: "What we want most out of this is closure. One of the big questions we've got is why an infection was allowed to run rampant for six months without detection.

Image caption The inquiry is being chaired by retired judge Lord MacLean

"It says to us there has been a massive systems failure, not only throughout the Vale of Leven but throughout the NHS. We feel that's the lessons that need to be learned to save lives."

The inquiry also heard from Enid McMurdo, whose father John Boyle also died.

She recounted how she was told her father, who was diagnosed with C.diff on 25 January 2008 and died two weeks later, would be "all right" after being put on antibiotics.

An initial review of procedures at the hospital following the C.diff outbreak found "inadequate" infection controls.

Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon ordered the inquiry into the deaths last year.

Evidence from patients and relatives is expected to last into next week.

This will be followed by evidence from NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and its staff.

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