Lib Dems demand that Hewitt makes statement on 'tragic' cases

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Indy Lifestyle Online

The Health Secretary, Patricia Hewitt, has come under pressure from MPs to make an urgent House of Commons statement on the outbreak of a lethal new bug at Stoke Mandeville Hospital.

The virulent new strain of Clostridium difficile has caused the deaths of 12 elderly patients and infected 300 others at the hospital in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, since 2003.

During exchanges in the Commons yesterday, David Heath, for the Liberal Democrats, called for a statement from Ms Hewitt on the "tragic" events at the hospital. "We have had a lot of discussion about MRSA [but] none so far as I am aware, about this very, very dangerous bug."

The Commons Leader, Geoff Hoon, said he shared these concerns, adding: "I am well aware that the Secretary of State for Health is looking into this as a matter of urgency."

Paul Goodman, Conservative MP for High Wycombe, said many of his constituents used the hospital, adding: "Please can you tell us when a health minister will come to this House, go to that dispatch box and make a statement?"

Mr Hoon replied: "I am well aware that the health service has been in contact with the relevant trust and are offering assistance to both identify the precise nature of this outbreak and obviously to contain it.

"I think it's important that we allow their work to continue. But you are right, it is something that must be addressed as a matter of urgency."