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Infection fears prompt recall of Carlisle hospital patients

A patient who is among hundreds recalled due to concerns over endoscopies carried out at the Cumberland Infirmary has said she now is fraught with worry.

Dee Jackson photo
Dee Jackson

Dee Jackson, 47, of Blackwell Road, Carlisle, was one of 357 to receive a letter flagging up concerns about the cleanliness of equipment used during her procedure.

She has had to have a blood test to check for infection, including hepatitis.

Hospital bosses stress that the risk is very small and patients are being recalled as a precaution.

But Miss Jackson said she will not be able to settle until she has had the test results back.

“I just feel sick. If they’ve used that equipment on someone else and not cleaned it properly, you don’t know what they’ve got,” she said.

The patients affected underwent an endoscopy – when doctors use a tiny camera on the end of a flexible tube to look inside the body – at the city hospital between May 20 and June 19 this year.

But Miss Jackson is angry that it has taken more than a month since the problem was identified to get in touch.

Concerns relate to two of the three machines used to clean endoscopes. Although equipment was cleaned, the automated machines were not using the correct levels of disinfectant required.

North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust has identified all the patients whose tests were carried out with endoscopes cleaned by the machines in question.

Medical director Jeremy Rushmer said staff noticed that one type of detergent was being used more quickly than the other. They flagged this up and the manufacturer confirmed this should not happen.

He said they rectified the problem quickly and no tests had to be cancelled.

With the help of experts from Public Health England they were able to identify how long it had been an issue and who may be at risk.

He added nobody other than the 357 recalled patients should have any concerns. The trust sent out letters to all affected patients yesterday (Tuesday) and launched a helpline.

Special clinics are now underway so they can get immediate blood tests and talk through any concerns.

Miss Jackson, who suffers from a serious heart condition is concerned that any infection could seriously affect her health.

After visiting the hospital yesterday, she said: “I don’t feel any more reassured.

“I had a blood test and spoke to a nurse. It was very much a case of ‘don’t worry’ but they were testing for hepatitis.

"I already have one death sentence hanging over me, until I find out otherwise I now feel like I have another.

“I thought they’d fast track the tests but you have to wait the standard seven to 10 days, then go back again in six months’ time."

But Dr Rushmer said: “I would strongly reiterate that the offer of a blood test for certain patients is purely a precautionary measure and the risk of any infection from this type of incident is extraordinarily low.

“Nevertheless we take our duty of care to patients very seriously and felt it was important to write to these specific patients directly to make sure we offer the right support and reassurance."

He added he was pleased to see endoscopy staff identify a problem and act quickly.

He said he was confident it would never happen again. The issue will also be passed on to other hospitals that use the same equipment.

Kate Brierley, a nurse consultant at Public Health England, has been overseeing the trust's response.

She said: “Our responsibility is to make sure everything that can be done has been done. I’m happy that is the case here.”

Have your say

@ pat considering how many people the hospital treat there alot of positives to be had, no I maybe havent had a bad experience and obviously you have which is awful and its your right to choose to go over to Newcastle the bad is always more newsworthy than the good. I dont consider myself a 'lucky one' i just appreciate what service we have and it would be awful if it was to close.

Posted by anon on 14 August 2014 at 12:51

You just need to google cumberland infirmary apologises to see how many serious incidents have happened over the past few many unnecessary deaths are there going to be before the government steps in? This latest incident does not just affect the people who had an endoscopy it also affects their family.There is an awful lot of worried people in and around Carlisle How do we know it had only been happening for a month and that everyone involved has been informed? I'm afraid I don't trust them

Posted by Pam on 13 August 2014 at 15:04

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