Page last updated at 02:01 GMT, Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Nurses questioned in C.diff probe

Vale of Leven Hospital
The Vale of Leven Hospital was the focus of the C.diff outbreak

Nurses are to face police questioning over deaths from Clostridium difficile at a Dunbartonshire hospital, it has emerged.

Officers will interview staff at the Vale of Leven Hospital, where a C.diff outbreak was linked to 18 deaths.

A report which identified failures in hygiene and infection control was passed to prosecutors last year.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said its members "would meet legal advisers before being interviewed".

RCN Scotland associate director of employment relations, Norman Provan, told the Nursing Standard: "This is a difficult time for staff in the Vale of Leven.

It's unusual for police to question NHS staff over outbreaks of hospital infections
Eleanor Bradford
BBC Scotland health correspondent
"For those who are asked to attend police interviews, we are arranging for them to meet with our legal advisers before being interviewed."

Police are working alongside the Health and Safety Executive, which has been reviewing the hospital's paperwork in relation to infection control procedures.

The police report will be handed to the procurator fiscal service at the end of the investigation, which is expected to last several months.

Conservative public health spokesman Jackson Carlaw said: "Today's announcement makes it clear once again that the police investigation is no small matter, and should never have been dismissed by Labour as being of secondary importance to a public inquiry.

"If a public inquiry had been established, it may already have been halted to prevent it from prejudicing this major police investigation."

Infection rules

Liberal Democrat health spokesman Ross Finnie said: "The fact that the police are conducting interviews with nursing staff indicates the need for a thorough and all encompassing public inquiry into the C.difficile outbreak at the Vale of Leven hospital."

BBC Scotland health correspondent Eleanor Bradford said: "It's unusual for police to question NHS staff over outbreaks of hospital infections, although two investigations into outbreaks at hospitals in England were abandoned because there was no prospect of securing convictions."

Strathclyde Police said they would not comment on who they were questioning in the investigation.

The Scottish Government announced new rules this week which will compel health boards to monitor hospital bug infections more closely.

Rates of infection for the MRSA and C.diff bugs will have to be reported at frequent intervals for each hospital.

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