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Hospitals' superbug death payouts revealed

Families of people who died after contracting superbugs in Scottish hospitals have been awarded £660,000 by NHS boards.

Conservatives, who obtained the figure from the Scottish government, said the bill is concerning and suggested that the money would have been better spent on prevention.

The total of £660,671 was awarded to patients where a healthcare associated infection (HAI) such as MRSA and clostridium difficile was involved.

Conservative MSP Mary Scanlon said: “Money spent compensating families following the death of a loved one would have been much better spent preventing it happening in the first place.”

She called for “accountability” from health staff and said: “If a rail engineer fails to fix the brakes on a train, then that train crashes and people die, the engineer is held responsible. There is no difference between that and hospital staff who fail to comply with infection control procedures and standards that result in death.

“I will now be contacting all Scottish health boards to find out the true extent of both these matters.”

Health secretary Alex Neil said the government does not hold the details centrally, referring instead to the NHS National Services Scotland central legal office.

“In some of these cases, HAI may have been only one factor among others in the award of the compensation paid out,” he said.

A Scottish government spokesman said: “The Scottish government is committed to driving down hospital associated infections, and recent figures from July this year show that Clostridium difficile among the over-65s in Scotland and cases of MRSA are at the lowest level since recording began.

“We have also tripled our funding to tackle HAIs, up from £15 million previously to over £50 million over three years (2008-2011). In addition, we introduced a world-leading national patient safety programme to improve the safety and quality of care for patients in Scotland.

“The Scottish Patient Safety Programme has been introduced in all Scottish acute hospitals and aims to reduce healthcare associated infection, reduce adverse surgical incidents, decrease adverse drug events, improve critical care outcomes and improve organisational and leadership culture on safety.”


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