No police action over Betsi Cadwaladr C. diff outbreak

hospital bed (generic) Image copyright BBC graphics
Image caption A follow-up report found improvements had been made but the number of infections was still too high

Wales' biggest health board will not face police action over an outbreak of Clostridium difficile (C. diff) at hospitals in north Wales.

There were 96 C. diff cases at Glan Clwyd Hospital, Denbighshire, between January and May 2013, and 30 patients died while infected.

North Wales AM Llyr Gruffydd called for manslaughter charges against Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board.

But police say there is no evidence to support such an investigation.

Mr Gruffydd wanted North Wales Police to examine how the health board, which apologised for the outbreak, responded to warnings of a possible infection spread.

But following a 10-month investigation, officers told him on Monday they would not be taking the matter any further.

None of the patient deaths has been directly attributed to the C. diff infections.

Detective Inspector Mark Hughes of North Wales Police said: "Following Mr Gruffydd raising his concerns in October 2013 we have conducted a comprehensive review and submitted our findings to the Crown Prosecution Service complex case unit who concur there is no evidence to support a police investigation into corporate or gross negligence manslaughter."

Plaid Cymru AM Mr Gruffydd added: "It was important that the police had the opportunity to look into the circumstances fully."

A spokesperson for Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) said it was pleased with the outcome of the investigation.

Image caption Deep cleaning machines known as "Daleks" are now used to clean wards to help combat infections

The health board apologised in 2013 for its failure to control the bug.

Its chairman and vice-chairman stood down after it was severely criticised by health and audit watchdogs over its handling of the spread of infection, among other management failings.

An investigation by BBC Wales' Week In Week Out programme found that despite warnings of a possible outbreak, the health board was said to have failed to have acted quickly enough to prevent it.

The number of infection control nurses had been cut, and there were not enough isolation beds at the hospital to help stop the infection spreading.

A report since then found hospitals in north Wales were making progress, but more work was needed as the number of infections was "still too high".

The review looked at changes in management, organisation and practices put in place to combat infection.

These included changes to the products cleaning staff use and the introduction of a fleet of deep-cleaning robots, which kill infections with hydrogen peroxide vapour.

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