19 Sep 2008

C difficile speech in Parliament 11th. September 2008

Hugh Henry : Other speakers have made it clear that clostridium difficile-associated disease is not just a problem in one hospital.

On 5 September, the Paisley Daily Express reported that the fact that there had "been eight cases of the deadly Clostridium Difficile infection in one ward at the Paisley hospital over a four-week period ... was a contributory factor in the death of one patient", so it is clear that people in my constituency are worried about what is happening in our hospitals.

I welcome the content and tone of the cabinet secretary's speech.

I thought that she made some helpful comments and recognised the scale of the problem.

This is a debate on which we should try to reach some common ground on behalf of the wider public.

People will not forgive us if we are seen to squabble for party-political reasons over an issue on which there is general agreement.

I worry that the cabinet secretary might inadvertently—I am not suggesting that she is doing so deliberately—be teasing people with the possibility of a public inquiry.

She said that she did not rule out such an inquiry, but that issue is separated out in the amendment, which is otherwise similar to Labour's motion.

I hope that during the day, the cabinet secretary might reflect on where we are.

We do not want to give out a signal to the general public that politicians are squabbling and cannot agree on taking serious action on a significant issue.

I hope that we will send out a clear message that we are intent on improving the situation in our hospitals.

Several speakers have highlighted the problem.

Christine Grahame was right to mention some of the cultural and practical issues in our hospitals.

Staff are not deliberately casual, but the fact that they can move from one institution to another and not have any long-term commitment to a hospital can cause problems.

Like the cabinet secretary, I have experience of elderly relatives suffering hospital-acquired infections.

The state of cleanliness of some wards leaves a lot to be desired.

There seems to be some confusion about who is responsible for cleaning certain things at certain times.

Sometimes unclean and unsafe conditions are left for far too long.

Jackie Baillie made a good point about inspection.

Why is it that we can find out about the tea bar at the Vale of Leven hospital, but we cannot find out before we go into a hospital whether it has a bad record, relative to other hospitals, on cleanliness and hospital-acquired infection?

We should put such information into the public domain.

Before they go into a particular hospital, patients should have the right to access the data for that hospital.

I see no reason why we cannot have unannounced inspections of the cleaning and safety standards in hospitals.

It is a concern that more progress seems to be being made on the issue in England than is being made here.

We should be big enough to learn from what is happening elsewhere.

I acknowledge that time is short and that other members want to speak.

Suffice it to say that we must find a way of coming together to take action on what is a significant issue for the public.

There is an opportunity for us to have further debate on inspection regimes and other specific issues on which practical suggestions have been made.

The last thing that we should do on such a major issue that has had tragic consequences is divide along party-political lines over of what will be seen as splitting hairs and playing with words.