NHS managers get away with murder as MRSA superbug hospital escapes criminal charges

The hospital trust at the centre of Britain’s worst recorded hospital MRSA 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?

“Someone really should have to carry the can over this… for no charges to be pressed is really disgusting. I can’t believe it”.

Baker, described the death of her mother-in-law as “legalised killing”.

She said: “The Trust is to blame, I know that, everyone knows it and it makes my blood boil.

“Those patients didn’t die by chance, they died because they contracted C diff at the Trust because of poor hygiene and care, so they are to blame, without a shadow of a doubt.”

The Healthcare Commission had found the infection probably or definitely killed 90 people and was a factor in a further 241 deaths.

It also criticised the then chief executive of the trust, Rose Gibb, who left before the findings were published and is now reported to be fighting for a payout of several hundred thousand pounds.

But police said the report held no evidence that the deaths amounted to manslaughter.

For the trust or one of its employees to have committed gross negligent manslaughter, it would be necessary to identify a single act that was grossly negligent and caused a death.

Geoff Martin, of campaign group Health Emergency, said: “The decision not to bring charges over the catastrophic management failures at Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells sends out a signal that no matter how many people die, those at the top can bail out without taking the rap.

“Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells was possibly the worst single, corporate failure in the history of the NHS. It doesn’t get any worse than 90 deaths and it’s massive kick in the teeth to the friends and relatives of those who died that no-one will be properly called to account.

David Nicholson, NHS chief executive, said: “Whilst criminal proceedings have not been brought in this instance, the Trust’s failure to protect and care for patients during the outbreaks of Clostridium difficile between 2004 and 2006 was wholly unacceptable.”


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