Hundreds of Patients Recalled After Endoscope Issue At Cumberland Infirmary

North Cumbria University Hospitals Writes to 357 Patients Affected By Disinfectant Problem


Dave Grimshaw, Press Officer | 0114 274 4397

Leading medical negligence lawyers have expressed concerns for patient safety after North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust announced today that it has written to 357 patients after discovering a problem with machines used to clean endoscopes at the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle.

The Trust says that the two of the three automated machines used to clean endoscopes at the Cumberland Infirmary, were not using the correct levels of disinfectant required to meet the Trust’s very high standards. 

They add that the issue concerns a very specific group of patients who had an endoscopy procedure at the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle between 20 May and 19 June 2014 and, specifically, where the endoscopes used were cleaned in the two machines affected by this issue. 

The Trust says that all 357 patients affected patients have been contacted directly and that there is no need for any other patients who have not had a direct letter to be concerned.

Irwin Mitchell has acted on behalf of many patients across the country recalled because of issues with their treatment and expert lawyers are advising people who may be affected to seek assistance from medical staff as soon as possible.

Expert Opinion
While we welcome the NHS Trusts’ prompt action in writing to all those who could potentially be affected, the issue raises serious questions about patient safety.

“Patients are being recalled as a precautionary measure to undergo blood tests and although it is understood that the risk of infection is small – it is crucial that anyone who may be affected by this gets the necessary treatment as soon as possible.

“The MHRA is investigating and it is crucial that any problems identified are dealt with as soon as possible and action is taken to ensure that lessons are learned to prevent the same problems happening again. The investigation will need to identify how the disinfectant levels became too low, was this a fault with the machine, the process or human error.

“It is important that this investigation takes place as quickly as possible in case other hospitals using the same machines are affected by similar issues.”
Angela Kirtley, Partner

Media reports say that staff in the endoscopy department at Cumberland Infirmary raised concerns after routine checks revealed there was a problem with the levels of disinfectant solutions used, which were lower than expected in two of the three automated cleaning machines. This was reported, rectified and will now be investigated by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

Despite the lower levels of disinfectant used, the cleaning, disinfection and rinsing which did take place is very likely to have been enough to ensure the endoscopes were free of any bacteria or viruses.

If you or a loved one has suffered as a result of hospital negligence, we may be able to help you claim compensation. See our Medical Negligence Guide for more information.