SICKENING’: Campaigners condemn superbug boss let off

PUBLISHED: 16:54 06 August 2008 | UPDATED: 11:50 12 August 2010

RESIGNED:  Rose Gibb.

RESIGNED: Rose Gibb.

A HEALTH campaigner has called for a change in the NHS system after police decided not to prosecute over the deaths of 90 patients in a superbug outbreak.

A HEALTH campaigner has called for a change in the NHS system after police decided not to prosecute over the deaths of 90 patients in a superbug outbreak.

Kent Police and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) announced that they would not be bringing any charges against Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust and its former chief executive Rose Gibb.

Ms Gibb, of Sole Street, Cobham, a former operations director at Bromley Hospitals NHS trust until 2003, resigned as the head of Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells days before a damning report in October last year into the handling of superbug Clostridium difficle outbreaks.

Campaigner Sue Sulis, of the Bromley Community Care Protection Group said: "I am very disappointed, but this happens so often that people in management are not held responsible.

"Ninety people died - more than the number of people that died in the London terrorist attack - and yet it appears that we are just going to accept it.

"It's an absolute disgrace. I have read the report, and it sickens me that such a large number of people died and died in the most horrible way, and no one is being held accountable.

"Nobody is going to pay for this apart from the families of the people that died. It is disgraceful that this is allowed to go on in our society. This needs to change and people need to start being held accountable for this."

John Shepherd's wife, Jean, 66, of Knockhall Road, Greenhithe, died after contracting the bug at Darent Valley Hospital, Dartford.

He said: "Someone should be held accountable for this, it is wrong that no one at the trust will have to take the responsibility for what happened.

"People died as a result of this outbreak, and if no one pays for it, then we have to make sure that we learn from it.

"Should we lay all the blame at one person though? I know that is the usual procedure, blame the people at the top, but maybe that shouldn't be the way, someone on the ground, someone that is involved in the cleaning process should share some of the blame, they are the people responsible for cleanliness.

"It's sad that the people that lost loved ones like me will not get any answers. My case with my wife went on for two years and I never got any answers. The government just keeps throwing money at it and hopes it will get solved. I don't know what can be done but there needs to be an overhaul of the system."

The report revealed that 90 patients at Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells Trust had died of the bug, a bacterial infection of the gut, and a further 1,200 patients had been infected between April 2004 and September 2006.

In a statement from Ms Gibb's partner, Mark Rees, the former chief executive of Bromley NHS Trust until 2003, said: "I am pleased that the announcement confirms what we always knew to be the case.

"I would suggest any further questions should be put to the leadership of the NHS and secretary of state as they are better placed to explain the real underlying causes and issues then existing throughout the NHS.

"Everything else is a deflection from the real issues and further political scapegoating of Rose.

"We're extremely sorry for the families but wish the NHS and Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells concentrate on dealing with the real issues and causes."

Assistant Chief constable of Kent Police Allyn Thomas said: "While 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 at this time."

A statement from Kent Police said that there was no information to suggest any of the deaths amounted to manslaughter.

If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Bromley Times. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the Bromley Times