By Claire McKim
AN inquiry into a C.diff outbreak at a Scots hospital has been put on hold – after the chairman fell ill.
The Vale of Level Hospital is currently under investigation after 18 patients lost their lives to the superbug between December 2007 and June 2008.
A further 37 people developed C.diff at the troubled hospital ward.
The deadline for the inquiry’s report has already been extended to May next year – five years after the deadly outbreak.
Inquiry chairman Lord MacLean, a retired Lockerbie trial judge fell ill after recently undergoing surgery.
Families of the victims say they had no prior warning that the hearing would be delayed.
Michelle Stewart, of the C.difficile Justice Group, whose mother-in-law Sarah McGinty, died, said: “The inquiry went above and beyond what we expected them to do and we appreciate that, but we want closure.”
Patrick Maguire, representing the families, said: “All the timetables have not only had to slip or been allowed to slip, they are on hold at the moment.”
Jackie Baillie, Labour health spokeswoman, said: “Three years on, the inquiry just keeps being delayed and no answers are forthcoming.”
A spokeswoman for the Vale of Leven Hospital C.diff Public Inquiry, said: “Core participant legal representatives were informed on August 6 that the closing hearing would not take place on September 21 due to the chairman being unwell.
“Lord MacLean has been unwell following operative treatment. He is now recovering well and is making good progress.”
She said the inquiry’s work was continuing.