Transparency Vital In Search For Answers Over Glasgow Legionnaires’

Call For Clarity And Thorough Investigation Into Confirmed Cases In City

28.06.2013

By Rob Dixon

Lawyers representing more than 30 people are still awaiting answers over a fatal outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in Edinburgh 12 months ago, have called on authorities investigating three confirmed cases of the illness in Glasgow to identify the source of the problem as soon as possible and ensure they keep the public fully updated.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde confirmed that its Public Health Protection Unit is investigating the cases, which have seen all three of those affected receive inpatient treatment at different hospitals in the area.

Dr Gillian Penrice, a consultant in public health for the body, said that while a small number of cases are seen every year, to see several so close together was “unusual”. Investigations in conjunction with the Health and Safety Executive and Health Protection Scotland are now looking to the prospect of a potential common source.

Specialist illness lawyers at Irwin Mitchell’s Glasgow office represent 35 victims and their families affected by a major outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in Edinburgh last year, which led to the deaths of three people. The law firm also represents around 20 victims of a similar outbreak in Stoke last summer as well as people hit by the disease in Spain while on holiday.

Even one year on, many of those who suffered illness in Edinburgh last year are still suffering from problems such as shortness of breath, as well as experiencing weakened joints and muscles, which is common after the effects of Legionnaires’.

In December, the team was forced to commission its own specialist report into the Edinburgh outbreak after calls for authorities to release information were continually rejected. Expected to be completed soon, the report intends to identify potential sources of the Edinburgh problems so that the victims’ legal battle can move forward and they can receive the support they now need to help them move on with their lives.

Elaine Russell, a Partner at Irwin Mitchell’s Glasgow office who is representing the victims, said: “Reports of these confirmed cases in Glasgow are clearly a concern, especially after the major outbreak seen in Edinburgh last year.

"Through our work on behalf of victims we have seen first-hand the terrible impact that contracting this illness can have, with the health of many of our clients continuing to be affected by the problems they suffered.

“We have also seen the frustration and difficulties which can be caused by a lack of information for victims, who simply want answers and information about how the outbreak started so they can both move on with their lives and gain reassurances that the same problems will not happen again.

“It is vital that the same issues with clarity and answers are not seen in these investigations into the current Glasgow situation. Victims and the public at large must be kept comprehensively updated as to any developments, so they can be assured that everything possible is being done to identify a source and tackle this issue.

“It is imperative that the correct procedures are followed by the authorities to ensure that possible sources are isolated and the correct tests are carried out as soon as possible. We hope authorities are able to identify any potential common source as well as share information with other local authorities to ensure lessons can be learned from these problems.”

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