Team monitoring Legionnaires outbreak to appear before Scottish Parliament committee


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The team monitoring an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease will appear before a Scottish Parliament committee.

Two men have died and 44 cases have been confirmed since the start of the outbreak in Edinburgh last month.

Representatives of NHS Lothian, the Health and Safety Executive and the city council will appear before MSPs on the Health and Sport Committee on Tuesday next week.

Committee convener Duncan McNeil said: "This has been an extremely serious outbreak of legionella.

"The numbers of people contracting the disease appears to have now peaked.

"It is therefore an appropriate time for the members of the incident management team to answer questions about the handling of the outbreak and progress in identifying the source.

"Two people have tragically died as a result of this disease. Where we can, we must learn lessons from this case, which will be a key part of the committee's questioning."

MSPs will hear from Pam Waldron, health and safety executive director for Scotland; Dr Alison McCallum, director of public health for NHS Lothian; Dr Duncan McCormick consultant in public health for NHS Lothian; Colin Sibbald, food health and safety manager for City of Edinburgh Council; and Dr Jim McMenamin, consultant epidemiologist with Health Protection Scotland.

In the last update yesterday, the number of cases of Legionnaires' disease remained unchanged for 24 hours.

On top of the confirmed cases, the number of suspected cases was 47, the Scottish Government said.

As of noon yesterday, six people were in intensive care, down from seven the previous day, while 18 were on general wards.

The first man to die was Robert Air, 56, from Seafield in the Scottish capital.

Five people are taking legal action over the outbreak.

Authorities are still trying to find the source, with an initial focus on an area in the west of the city.

Deputy committee convener Bob Doris said: "The committee was keen to let those handling the outbreak to get on with their jobs and focus on dealing with this serious public health issue.

"With the outbreak now under control, the committee is pleased that the incident management team is willing to appear in front of MSPs.

"The evidence session will allow the health committee to play a constructive role scrutinising the management of the outbreak.

"We are not calling into question any specific actions but rather assisting in promoting continuous improvement in how such incidents are managed."