The individual who died in a listeria outbreak caused by eating contaminated food at Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in southern England was one of nine confirmed cases of the infection. The sixth patient to die had eaten food supplied to the hospital by the Good Food Chain. Public Health England (PHE) continues to investigate whether more people have died at dozens of trusts.
The NHS has experienced worse medical and hospital outbreaks, which have led to criticism of the standards of hygiene across the organization, with some patients buying private health insurance or travelling abroad to avoid the perceived threat of catching a "superbug" while in hospital.
Here are seven of the many other outbreaks the NHS has come under fire for:
7- Cooked and Frozen Food Served in Hospitals
Reports this week show hospital patients are eating meals cooked and frozen months before they’re served up. Around a fifth of all hot meals served at NHS hospitals are made at just one factory in Wiltshire, owned by private firm Apetito. More unusual products made by Apetito can be stored for up to a year before they get to patients. The NHS is thought to buy in half of all its hot meals from external suppliers.
6- Drug-Resistant Superbugs
There have been several fatal outbreaks of antibiotic resistant bacteria ("superbugs") in NHS hospitals, such as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Vancomycin Resistant Enterococci (V.R.E.), Clostridium difficile and borderline oxacillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (BORSA).
The Drug-resistant superbug is spreading in the UK and Europe’s hospitals. As an example, deaths from carbapenem-resistant K. pneumoniae have gone up from 341 in Europe in 2007 to 2,094 by 2015.
5- Whorlton Hall abuse
Since 2015, several films have uncovered that the staff of the specialist hospital Whorlton Hall, County Durham, abuse and mistreat patients with learning disabilities and autism. Experts believe the culture was deviant at the privately-run NHS-funded unit with evidence of "psychological torture".
Since the end of 2018, police has arrested and questioned 10 workers as part of an investigation into alleged physical and psychological abuse of patients.
4- Stafford Hospital scandal
This scandal concerns poor care and high mortality rates amongst patients at the Stafford Hospital in the late 2000s where, in the wards, people lay starving, thirsty and in soiled bedclothes. Patients' buzzers would drone endlessly, unanswered. Some patients received the wrong medication; some, none at all.
The scandal came to national attention following an investigation by the Healthcare Commission in 2008 into the operation of the Hospital.
Many press reports suggested that because of the substandard care a further 400 to 1200 patients had died between 2005 and 2008.
Yet another investigation, led by Prof Sir Bruce Keogh, showed that as many as 13,000 more patients had died from 2005 to 2010 in 14 NHS trusts.
3- Bristol heart scandal
The Bristol heart scandal occurred in England during the 1990s. At the Bristol Royal Infirmary, babies died at high rates after cardiac surgery. An investigation chaired by Professor Ian Kennedy QC, emphasised Paediatric cardiac surgery services at Bristol were "simply not up to the task", because of shortages of key surgeons and nurses, and a lack of leadership, accountability, and teamwork. In fact the unit, which had “not been up to the task” in 5 years (1991-1995) had left 34 children under one year of age dead, who would have survived in other NHS units.
Overall 170 children died in the Bristol unit during the period 1986 – 1995.
2- Alder Hey organs scandal
The Alder Hey organs scandal involved the unauthorised removal, retention, and disposal of human tissue, including children’s organs, during the period 1988 to 1995. Hospital staff also kept and stored 400 foetuses collected from hospitals around the north west of England.
During this period organs were retained in more than 2,000 'pots' containing body parts from around 850 infants.
Until a public inquiry in 1999, the general public was unaware that Alder Hey and other hospitals within the NHS were retaining patients' organs without family consent.
1- Infected blood scandal
In august 2019, the bust of the late Prof Arthur Bloom was removed from the haemophilia centre at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff. Bloom, who died in 1992 aged 62, was one of the UK’s leading haematologists, but his reputation was ruined after the deaths of haemophiliac patients, who had been given blood infected with HIV and hepatitis C. The scandal, which occurred in the 1970s and 1980s, is estimated to have claimed more than 3,000 lives and is still under investigation.