CONSERVATIVE
New Forest East

HEALTH – HOSPITAL-ACQUIRED INFECTIONS – 21 November 2007

Dr Julian Lewis: Does my hon. Friend [Andrew Lansley] recall the case that I raised at Health Questions a few days ago? A decorated RAF war hero in my constituency nearly died after contracting C. difficile in Southampton General Hospital following a routine operation. Does my hon. Friend think that the reason for the inaction is that the people who suffer so much – and in many cases lose their lives – are of a certain age? If such things happened to people of middle age or younger, perhaps the Government would feel it necessary to take firmer action and act more decisively. Is not a form of ageism at work in respect of the problem?

[Mr Lansley: I recall my hon. Friend's question, and I fear that he may be right, although I wish he were not. It is clear from the report on Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust that some of the same infection control issues were manifested in the lack of response to issues of privacy and dignity. That, of course, impacts disproportionately on the very elderly. Although C. difficile is not confined to the very elderly, they are particularly at risk. I share my hon. Friend's concern.]